Skip to main content

Full text of "General Wolfe"

See other formats


3s. 6d. net 

Cardinal Beaufort. By L. B. 
Radford, D.D. 

Viscount Castlereagh. By Arthur 
Hassall, M.A. 

Archbishop Parker. By W. M. 
Kennedy, B.A. 

Ready Shortly 

Francis Atterbury. By H. C. 
Beeching, D.Litt. 

Other volumes in preparation 

Makers of National History 

Edited by W. H. HUTTON, B.D. 


From the painting by Shaak in the National Portrait Gallery 


General Wolfe 








It is intended in this series to commemorate im- 
portant men whose share in the making of national 
history seems to need a more complete record than 
it has yet received. In some cases the character, 
the achievements, or the life, have been neglected 
till modern times ; in most cases new evidence has 
recently become available ; in all cases a new estimate 
according to the historical standards of to-day seems 
to be called for. The aim of the series is to illustrate 
the importance of individual contributions to national 
development, in action and in thought. The foreign 
relations of the country are illustrated, the ecclesias- 
tical position, the evolution of party, the meaning 
and influence of causes which never succeeded. No 
narrow limits are assigned. It is hoped to throw 
light upon English history at many different periods, 
and perhaps to extend the view to peoples other than 
our own. It will be attempted to show the value in 
national life of the many different interests that have 
employed the service of man. 

The authors of the lives are writers who have a 
special knowledge of the periods to which the subjects 
of their memoirs belonged. 


S. John's College, Oxford. 


On the 13th September will be commemorated the 
150th anniversary of the death of General James 
Wolfe on the heights of Abraham. Of all the lives 
indelibly associated with the history of the Empire, 
certainly of the heroes of the eighteenth century, none 
has perhaps been so little " done " as that of the 
Conqueror of Quebec. The romance of Quebec has 
been described till it is almost a nursery tale, but 
among biographies of Wolfe there are only two that 
claim special attention — one, Wright's, which 
appeared more than sixty years ago and is necessarily 
out-of-date ; the other, Mr. A. G. Bradley's, which 
appeared fourteen years ago and consequently could 
not include valuable material made more readily 
available in the interval. Francis Parkman, most 
indefatigable of searchers after hidden records, in 
his Montcalm and Wolfe added much to Wright on 
the Canadian side, and in his turn has been supple- 
mented by Mr. A. G. Doughty, the Canadian archivist 
who has given us six big volumes, The Siege of Quebec. 
The Military Life of the First Marquess Townshend, 
by Col. C. F. V. Townshend, alone would seem 
to justify a new " life " of Wolfe ; it revived old 
controversy and misled many. Miss Kimball's 
Correspondence of Pitt with Colonial Governors and 
Naval and Military Commissioners in America has 
placed many of the treasures of the Archives at the 
command of the student who cannot go to them for 
himself. But it is extraordinary that from the 


Gentleman's Magazine of 1759 down to Miss Kimball 
and Mr. Doughty, frequently though Wolfe's mar- 
vellous despatch of the 2nd September to Pitt has 
been published apparently at length, it has never been 
given in England without some qualification. In 
Canada it was given, I believe, in extenso, by Brymner 
in his Report on the Canadian Archives for 1898. 
Miss Kimball omits two passages — for no obvious 
reason — and three words, the absence of which 
makes a material difference. To the best of my 
opportunities I have gone to the originals and the 
despatch is now printed in an appendix, exactly 
as Wolfe sent it off. Among more general histories, 
the most important, from the point of view of Wolfe's 
work, is Mr. Julian Corbett's masterly study of 
" amphibious " strategy — combined naval and mili- 
tary operations — in England in the Seven Years' 
War. Mr. Corbett, in his study of the Stopford- 
Sackville MSS., seized upon a very interesting and 
material fact in the record of Wolfe which no bio- 
graphy has contained hitherto. It has sometimes 
struck me as remarkable that Macaulay did not 
find in Wolfe's life the motif of at least one glowing 
passage in his Essays, if not of an Essay itself. 
He only mentions him twice, so far as I am aware. 
Disraeli did not even mention him in that striking 
speech of the stranger in the forest inn to Coningsby 
which ends, " The history of Heroes is the history of 
youth." Wolfe was more a case in point than either 
Nelson or Clive. 

I cannot return thanks individually to the many 
friends who have acted for me almost as so many 
skirmishers in attacking the subject. From those 
near at home to others who could have no personal 


interest in myself, I have received invaluable assis- 
tance. My good friend, Mr. J. R. Boose, the Librarian 
of the Royal Colonial Institute, devoted much precious 
time to assisting me in clearing up points of difficulty ; 
to Messrs. Pearson & Co., the dealers in Rare Books 
and Manuscripts, I owe a special debt for their 
generosity in permitting me to make use of the 
hitherto unpublished letters of Wolfe to Miss Lacey. 
Most of Wolfe's letters are in the possession of the 
descendants of his friend Warde, who still occupy 
Squerryes Court ; Wright made use of them, but did 
not wholly exhaust their interest as Mr. Beckles 
Willson, the Canadian writer who to-day lives in the 
house which the Wolfes occupied at Westerham, has 
shown. To handle the two Lacey letters was a rare 

I have pointed out some mistakes in the various 
accounts of Wolfe, and can only hope I have avoided 
pitfalls myself. My object has been to tell Wolfe's 
life story, to set that story in the framework of 
national history, and to place facts beyond dispute so 
far as my individual limitations permit. Mistakes in 
regard to the events of Wolfe's career seem inevitable. 
Even the inscription on Schaak's picture of him in the 
National Portrait Gallery is wrong I It says he fought 
at Fontenoy — a mistake which J. R. Green in his 
History of the English People (vol. iv, p. 188) endorses. 
Green, in the one page he devotes to the conquest of 
Canada, has two misapprehension? and three distinct 
errors in his references to Wolfe. That such things 
can be, makes one wonder sometimes whether Truth 
is the sovereign passion of the historian, as Disraeli 
said it was of mankind. 







REFLECTIONS . . . .42 


ENGLAND . . . . .59 


VII. THE FAILURES OF 1757 . . .90 




XI. BEFORE QUEBEC . . . .157 


'xin) THE PLAINS OF ABRAHAM . . .196 


APPENDIX I . . . . . 233 

APPENDIX II . . . 241 

APPENDIX III .... 243 


INDEX ..... 245 

map . . between pp. 160 & 161 






No surer proof of a man's greatness is needed than The Claim 
the rival claims of localities to the distinction of his of York- 
birthplace. In the case of James Wolfe the city of 
York and the town of Westerham, separated as they 
are by two-thirds of the length of England, have been 
unequal contestants for the reflected glory. How 
York ever came to imagine that it had any more than 
the remotest connection with an event which was to 
mean so much to British Imperial history, it is 
impossible to say. The tradition was long since 
disposed of. Yet last year, when Quebec was 
celebrating not merely the exploits of Cartier and 
Champlain and Frontenac, but of Montcalm and 
Wolfe, York reasserted its claim and gave illustrated 
accounts of the house, now an inn, where Wolfe was 
born. 1 General Wolfe's mother was a Yorkshire lady, 
a daughter of Edward Thompson of Marsden, and at 
the date of Wolfe's birth, his grandfather apparently 
was living in the house in York which some men of 
that city to this day point out as Wolfe's birthplace. 

Fortunately the wisdom of Solomon has not to be Westerham 
invoked to determine the truth. The evidence as to 
Westerham is complete. 2 James Wolfe was born in 

1 The Yorkshire Herald, 18th July, 1908. 

2 Only recently it was stated that Wolfe was born at 
Ferneaux Abbey, Kildare, so that Ireland as well as Yorkshire 
claims him. 


3 (221?) 


that picturesque, even to-day rather-out-of-the-world, 
Kentish village, on the 22nd December, 1726, Old 
Style, or the 2nd January, 1727, New Style. As 
tradition has endeavoured to give him two birthplaces, 
so his early biographers were prepared to give him 
two birthdays. The Rev. G. R. Gleig fixed the date 
at the 6th November, 1726. Nor can the mistake be 
attributed to the confusion wrought by the New 
Style of reckoning time, introduced in 1752. James 
Wolfe was baptized in the parish church, according to 
the register, on the 11th January, 1726, which appears 
to be nearly twelve months before he was born, until 
we remember that the new calendar dispensed with 
eleven days and made the year begin with the 1st 
January instead of three months later. The date of 
baptism therefore in the New Style, would be 22nd 
January, 1727. 

On yet another point biographers are not quite 
agreed. He was not born, as some have stated, in 
the old Tudor house, which his father had taken at 
Westerham, then called Spiers, now familiar as Quebec 
House. He was born at the Vicarage. His earliest 
biographer, Robert Wright, who published the fullest 
account of Wolfe's antecedents and career that we 
have, said that Lieutenant-Colonel and Mrs. Wolfe 
were living at the Vicarage, which they had rented 
from the Rev. George Lewis. x Mr. Beckles Willson 
tells a circumstantial story which shows that the birth 
at the Vicarage was more or less inadvertent. Colonel 
Wolfe was away on duty with his regiment and Mrs. 
Wolfe living alone for the moment at Westerham had 
made an afternoon call. She was taken ill, the 
good Vicar and his wife insisted that she should 

» Wright : Life of Wolfe, p. 6. 


remain, 1 and the Vicarage in consequence enjoyed 
the distinction of hearing the first sound uttered 
by lips whose words of command in the days to come 
were to carry with them the fate of peoples. 

James Wolfe came of venturesome stock. His Wolfe '« 
genealogical record is unfortunately incomplete. His ancestr 7« 
great-grandfather — who is variously described as 
George and Edward — was the descendant of the 
Woulfes who settled in the south-west of Ireland at 
the end of the sixteenth century. In 1650 the 
Woulfes roused, or assisted to rouse, the citizens of 
Limerick to oppose the Duke of Ormond when he 
wished to enter in order to defend the city against 
Cromwell's forces. One of the Woulfes was a Francis- 
can friar, the other an army captain. Both were 
proscribed, but whilst the friar was executed, the 
captain escaped to the North of England, dropped the 
" u " from his name, became a good Protestant, and 
married. Of his son we know nothing, but his 
grandson — the relationship has never been called in 
question — was Edward Wolfe the father of the hero 
of Quebec. Edward Wolfe was gazetted second 
lieutenant of marines when he was fifteen, became a 
captain in Temple's Regiment of foot at eighteen, and 
was one of Marlborough's brigade majors in the Low 
Countries at twenty-three. He served with Wade 
in Scotland in the rebellion of '15, and two years later, 
when he was thirty-two — the age at which his son 
James died — received his commission as Lieutenant- 
Colonel. The professional opportunities which came 
to James Wolfe were denied to his father, but there 
were resemblances in the two careers up to a point. 
Without social influence, both father and son rose 

1 Westminster Gazette, 23rd July, 1908. 


rapidly in a profession where wealth and family 
connection were a surer road to preferment than zeal 
and ability ; both fought in Flanders and assisted to 
put down rebellion in Scotland ; both made their 
mark by devotion to duty, their courage and resource 
in warfare, their efforts to improve in the hour of peace 
the instrument to which there must be appeal in any 
national crisis. The elder Wolfe's opportunities for 
distinction were sharply denned by Walpole and his 
policy of peace ; the younger Wolfe got his chance 
when Pitt determined that war, war at any cost of 
life and treasure, war in any part of the world where 
the French could be found, was essential to the 
security and the future of the British people. 

Not a great deal is recorded of James Wolfe's years 
at Westerham. He probably only saw his father at 
intervals ; the Lieutenant-Colonel would naturally 
have to spend much of his time away on duty, but in 
those intervals how the lad would absorb every 
parental reminiscence of service beyond the seas or 
across the border. The martial influence of the 
father, indelible as it was, was qualified and toned by 
the sweet and tender influence of the mother. If good 
mothers make good sons, Mrs. Wolfe must have been 
a veritable angel in the house. Father and mother, 
in their respective ways, are the shining lights of 
Wolfe's life as soldier and as man. Other influences 
which came to him at Westerham were his brother 
Edward, less than a year his junior, and his lifelong 
friend, George Warde, the youngest son of the owner 
of the neighbouring estate of Squerryes Court. James 
Wolfe possibly had something to do with Warde 's 
choice of the profession of arms. In their hours 
together in the woods and fields of Squerryes, the 


Wolfes and the Wardes played soldiers with all the 
earnestness of pretence. 

For a while James and his brother went to a school 
kept by one Lawrence, of whom nothing is known 
beyond his name. James was eleven years of age 
when the home at Westerham was exchanged for one 
at Greenwich, and a more advanced tutor was found 
in the Rev. S. F. Swinden, whom James and Edward 
Wolfe held in affectionate memory after their 
schooldays. It was at Mr. Swinden's that Wolfe is 
said to have met a youngster destined like himself to 
leave his mark on British history. That was John 
Jervis, who was intended for the law, but ran away 
to sea, to become in time the great admiral Lord 
St. Vincent. As Wolfe in the days to come on the St. 
Lawrence was to entrust Jervis with a sacred com- 
mission, it is a pity this story of their school-days is 
not true. Wolfe had been five years in the Army 
when the Jervis family moved from Staffordshire to 
the banks of the Thames. 1 

Greenwich brought young Wolfe into touch with Walpole. 
some of the forces that went to make up the larger 
national life. The river not only carried much of the 
commerce which was the very life-blood of the people, 
but bore to and fro the men who would be loudest in 
their clamour against the tyranny of the foreigner in 
his efforts to maintain a monopoly of over-the-sea 
markets. Walpole had preserved the peace for England 
during more than twenty years in circumstances 

1 Wright tells the story and Mr. Bradley and Mr. Doughty 
both repeat it. Wright's mistake on this point is amazing. 
He actually quotes Brenton's Life of St. Vincent, which 
contains the Admiral's own words that he was born 9th Jan., 
1734 (O.S.), and at the age of twelve went to a school at 
Greenwich kept by a Mr. Swinden. 


that demanded a very gymnast in diplomacy. 
He found kindred spirits in Cardinal Fleury in France 
and in Queen Caroline at home ; his motives were not 
always either unchallenged or unchallengeable ; his 
methods were not always compatible with dignity 
and honour, though their courage was superb. The 
people grew tired of a peace which gave no security, 
and George II, with an eye mainly to his Hanoverian 
interests, would have welcomed a pretext for the 
drawing of the sword which his Minister sedulously 
defeated. Whilst the King was concerned with the 
dynastic difficulties and ambitions of Europe, his 
people, seeking to enjoy the benefits of colonial and 
commercial enterprise, were incensed against Spain 
as later they were to be incensed against France, who 
now was England's ally. English merchants found 
the restrictions of the Treaty of Utrecht intolerable. 
One British ship per year of all the British mercantile 
marine was permitted to trade with Spanish America. 
It was a positive invitation to the descendants of 
Hawkins and Drake to turn themselves into smugglers. 
The Spaniards, with the letter of the law on their side, 
punished any luckless runner of illicit cargoes whom 
they might capture with truly Spanish severity. 
English national pride and commercial ambition 
combined with considerations of humanity to make 
idle all talk about words and forms even though they 
involved legality and international right. * 

Politicians with party and personal axes to grind 
strenuously encouraged the popular clamour, and 
when war was declared against Spain, on 13th October, 

1 Morley: Walpole, p. 216. Chap, x of Lord Morley's 
Walpole is a masterly summary, analysis and estimate of 
Walpole's foreign policy. 


1739, the day was one not of national apprehension 
or regret, but of national rejoicing. Horace Walpole's 
suggestion that the people who were ringing their 
bells then would before long be wringing their hands 
was justified to the letter. To James Wolfe the 
war fever would be an exhilaration such as he had 
not known in his thirteen years of life. The martial 
spirit was part of his nature, and the call to arms 
set every nerve in the boy's body tense. Fleets sailed ; 
troops were under orders for service beyond the seas ; 
and every roll of the drum stirred the national 
consciousness to energetic action. The things of 
which his father had told him were now to happen 
again, and they came nearer home than ever when a 
big camp was formed a few miles away on Blackheath, 
and his father was appointed Adjutant-General of 
the force, 10,000 strong, collecting on the Isle of 
Wight for the Cartagena expedition. 

The mere idea that any lad of James Wolfe's tender A volun- 
years, a lad moreover who was far from strong, should t£ er at 
be allowed to take part in an expedition that must try 
the fortitude of the most robust strikes us to-day as 
ludicrous. What arguments James brought to bear 
on the father who surely did not want the responsi- 
bility, and the mother who used every appeal to heart 
and parental authority to keep the boy with her, we 
must evolve for ourselves. It was agreed that he 
should go with the expedition as a volunteer. His 
triumph here is not insignificant. It was admittedly 
a tribute to the energy and force of will that distin- 
guished him through life ; x it was to supply the occa- 
sion of the first of that long and profoundly interesting 
series of letters which gave Wolfe a title to be regarded 

1 Bradley : Wolfe, p. 10. 


as the literary soldier ; it was also to throw into 
sharp relief at the outset the physical conditions 
against which he battled stoically in nearly all he 

Thus the boy, barely in his teens, was with his father 
at Newport prepared, in his own mind, to draw the 
sword manfully against the hated Spaniard. He was 
vastly impressed by the sight of the ships that went 
to make up his Majesty's " mighty navy," and he 
was not yet quite capable of detecting the defects in 
army organisation which the long peace had accentu- 
ated. The whole thing was more than a spectacle, 
because the lad had in him the intention, the genius 
of the soldier. In the midst of his excitements he 
remembered his " dearest mamma " ; there were 
little twinges of conscience that he should not have 
heeded her protests ; and he was much moved that 
she should doubt his love. He wrote a letter which 
was at least as far beyond his years as was his military 
ardour. He assured his mother that his love was 
" as sincere as ever any son's was to his mother," 
and begged her if she loved him not to give herself 
up to fears. " I will certainly write to you by every 
ship I meet because I know it is my duty. Besides, 
if it were not, I would do it out of love with pleasure." 
Here we have a note which a thoughtful man might 
have been pardoned for omitting, which many a man 
has omitted who had no intention to hurt. Duty 
done because it is duty and not reinforced by love 
must be a mechanical virtue ; and Wolfe, boy as he 
was, saw that his mother's sense of injury might only 
be aggravated if he did not hasten to affirm an 
impulse stronger than duty. It was no ordinary mind 
of thirteen, no ordinary character that anticipated 



the interpretation which might be put upon a 
conventional phrase. 

Wolfe told his mother that he was in very good A fortu- 
health and likely to continue so, but the statement 
was wanting in that nice accuracy too often sacrificed 
to optimism. He was taken ill before the Cartagena 
force could embark, and his father wisely at the 
eleventh hour decided that home was the lad's more 
fitting place. Wolfe could hardly have survived 
the disease, the distress, and the incompetent or 
inadequate medical accommodation which attended 
this ill-starred enterprise. There is a fine chance here 
for those who love to speculate on the might-have- 
beens. Would the history of the British Empire not 
have been radically different if Wolfe had found an 
early grave in Caribbean waters ? Among those who 
took part in the Cartagena expedition and succumbed 
to its disorders, was a volunteer from Virginia — 
Washington's elder brother. His death changed the 
whole outlook for George Washington. " If," says 
Mr. Bradley, " George Washington had remained a 
younger son, it is most unlikely he would have been 
available in 1775 to have stepped into the chief 
command " of the revolting colonies. " And without 
George Washington the very struggle itself in which 
he triumphed seems an inconceivable thing." J If the 
death of a member of the Washington family in that 
expedition affected the history of America, the sparing 
of young Wolfe from a similar fate may equally be 
said to have contributed to the same end. It was 
the capture of Quebec by Wolfe which made the 
American revolt possible, and we may therefore take 
it that without Wolfe there would not have been the 

1 Bradley: Wolfe, p. 12. 


Washington we know. Laurence Washington died, 

and Wolfe was spared, to some purpose ! 

Another year passed under Mr. Swinden's tutelage, 

and James Wolfe went to spend his Christmas holidays 

with his friend George Warde at Squerryes. The 

boys were amusing themselves at a spot in the 

grounds which is now historic, when Mr. Warde 

brought his young guest an envelope bearing the 

magic symbol, " On His Majesty's Service." The lad 

tore it open with none the less excitement because he 

probably anticipated the nature of its contents. His 

first commission ! It was dated November 3rd, 1741, 

and appointed him second lieutenant in his father's 

old regiment of marines. That was a memorable 

moment for Wolfe and for his country, and on the 

spot where he broke the seal of His Majesty's envelope 

his friends at Squerryes less than a couple of decades 

later erected a stone cenotaph bearing an inscription 

admirable in intent but not wholly devoid of 

imagination — 

"Here first was Wolfe with martial ardour fixed. 
Here first with glory's brightest flame inspired ; 
This spot so sacred will for ever claim 
A proud alliance with its hero's name." 

Wolfe's martial ardour was not so much fired as 
confirmed by the receipt of his commission. He was 
now fifteen, a tall, spare, effeminate-looking youth, 
with red hair and features that were little indicative 
of the iron will behind them. If there be any truth 
to nature in the pictures of him which were painted 
after his death, he was not at any time the con- 
ventional hero in appearance. But there must have 
been something more attractive about him facially 
than the artists succeeded in discovering or rendering. 


One historian dismisses Wolfe, no doubt after a due 
study of certain pictures, as a remarkably ugly boy 
with a shock of red hair and a turned-up nose ; l 
another speaks of him as " the red-haired, unattrac- 
tive soldier whose cold and almost repellent manner 
concealed some of the highest qualities." 2 It is 
agreed that Wolfe had a fine eye, " that searching, 
burning eye which carried all the distinction and 
greatness denied him elsewhere," says Sir Gilbert 
Parker. 3 Wolfe's face must have conveyed to those 
who knew him in the flesh a very different impression 
from that to be gleaned from most of his portraits. 
No character such as his could have failed to assert 
itself sooner or later in his physiognomy, and the love 
he won from so many people in different walks in life 
would not have gone to one who was unprepossessing. 
Some faces cannot be adequately interpreted by 
the brush any more than character is necessarily 
revealed by the camera. There is an infinite but not 
charming variety of so-called Wolfe portraits, 4 and 
none, even though it be authentic, seems to me to 
embody a character at once sweet and firm, sympa- 
thetic and resolute, serious with a qualifying vein of 
humour, eager to advance the right, quick to scorn 
the unworthy, resourceful, self-reliant, capable, and 
withal modest. 

1 Fortescue : A History of the British Army. vol. ii, p. 53. 

2 McCarthy : History of the Four Georges, vol. ii, p. 375. 

3 The Seats of the Mighty, chap, xxiii. 

4 See an admirable article on the subject by Mr. Beckles 
Willson in the Connoisseur, January, 1909. 



?rom The last thing in the world that Wolfe courted was 

viarine to the sea, and his enthusiasm on the receipt of his 
commission was qualified by the character of the 
arm to which he was appointed. He soon found a 
means of transfer and became an ensign of Colonel 
Duroure's Regiment of Foot, then known as the 
Twelfth. The regiment was under orders for Flanders, 
where England was again to take a hand in a 
continental conflict, 
rhe Army Not international politics but the army was Wolfe's 
n I 74 I - concern ; in all probability he knew little and cared 
less what the war was about. It sufficed that he was 
to take part in a real campaign and on ground of 
which he had heard his father — not yet returned from 
the West Indies — talk much. England's army in 
1741 amounted to less than 20,000 men. That she 
had an army at all was almost matter for wonder. 
Every conceivable means was adopted to make the 
ranks unpopular not only with the men but with the 
people. There were no barracks, the soldiers were 
quartered in places which made them a nuisance, so 
that the populace might be sensible of the fetters a 
standing army would forge, and after a war regiments 
which had begun to understand their business were 
too frequently disbanded ; officers who were not 
retired on inadequate half-pay, generally elected to 
swell the more easily recruited army of men about 
town, aimless save in dissipation, efficient only in 



unprofitable pursuits. The men were neglected 
whether they served at home or abroad, and in 
emergencies their numbers were augmented by the 
gaol-bird and the ne'er-do-weel. To prepare for war 
in time of peace was not the tenet of national safety 
in the early part of the eighteenth century, and the 
example set by Government was in the main faith- 
fully followed by the officers who might at any time 
be called upon to direct the movements of men in the 
field. The Civil War, the struggle with France 
maintained by William III, the achievements of 
Marlborough confirmed the English people in their 
dislike of militarism and its cost in blood and treasure. 
Hence the army, with notable exceptions, was a poor 
machine badly looked after, and when we read its 
history and note its victories we can only conclude 
either that it enjoyed extraordinary good fortune or 
that the exceptions were of incomparably sterling 

For England the whole of the eighteenth century Inter- 
was an intermittent duel with France for supremacy. "^^T . 
It was a duel which began in Europe, was fought to tions. 
a finish throughout the world, and ended only with 
Trafalgar and Waterloo. International relations at 
the time that Wolfe was called upon to play his small 
part in their settlement by the arbitrament of the 
sword, were what Seeley calls an " immense complex 
medley." 1 The royal houses of Austria, Prussia, 
France, Spain, Poland, Bavaria, and England were 
all concerned in an universal game of grab in which 
they changed their parts as circumstances dictated. 
Honesty was at a heavier discount than any mere 
Machiavel would ever have dared to encourage, and 

1 The Expansion of England, p. 28 (1886 ed.). 


England and Austria alone came out of the dynastic 
milee with approximate credit. " Congresses without 
issue, campaigns without visible objective, open 
treaties, secret treaties, public alliances, private 
combinations, the destruction to-day of the web 
laboriously woven yesterday, the union of four powers 
against one, of three against two, and so on in every 
variety of permutation and combination make a vast 
chaos," which even Lord Morley 1 does not try to 
reduce to order. The really visible objectives were, 
on the one hand, the satisfaction of the greed and 
aggrandisement of princes, and, on the other, the 
preservation of ancestral and solemnly secured rights 
against that satisfaction. The Emperor Charles VI, 
in order to save dispute and bloodshed over the 
succession to his enormous heritage, negotiated with 
the various powers the Pragmatic Sanction. His 
daughter, Maria Theresa, was to ascend the throne 
not merely by right but by the guarantee of all 
Europe. Charles VI provided for every contingency 
save one — ambitious unreadiness to observe a sacred 
compact when observance meant the sacrifice of an 
opportunity for the advancement of self-interest. 
George II Of all the rulers who pledged their honour, one 

and Maria only, George II, was true to his bond. Frederick of 
Prussia — surnamed the Great on account of his 
marvellous achievements in war, rather than on 
account of qualities which should alone justify 
the title — promptly attempted to appropriate Silesia ; 
France, Bavaria, Saxony, Spain, Poland, Sardinia 
all discovered claims and began to swarm about 
Austria like ravening wolves about the carcase of 
a lion. But they found the lioness in the person 

1 Walpole, p. 200. 


of Maria Theresa prepared to dispute every inch of 
ground. Europe proclaimed the Elector of Bavaria 
Emperor, and as Charles VII he donned the Imperial 
mantle. Maria Theresa, strong in her own character, 
strong with the strength of a woman's weakness, 
appealed to her people to save for her son her father's 
dominions, and her people rallied round her to a man. 
They rose nobly to the occasion, the French who had 
invaded Austria were driven out, and the Austrians 
overran Bavaria. Frederick defeated the Austrians 
at Mollwitz, but Maria Theresa was undismayed, and 
the intervention of England in Flanders relieved the 
pressure of the French on her forces to the south. 
It was on behalf of Maria Theresa that some sixteen 
thousand English troops were to be despatched to the 

Duroure's Regiment formed part of the flower of Wolfe In 
the English army assembled towards the end of April, Bel g ium - 
1742, on Blackheath to be reviewed by George II. 
The Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cumberland, and 
Field-Marshal the Earl of Stair were in attendance. 
The spectacle was more brilliant than any England 
had witnessed for a good long time. There was, of 
course, a crowd of spectators. A proud day that for 
Ensign Wolfe carrying the colours of his regiment. 
His mother and brother were present with other 
friends, and some hearts beat faster as the gaily 
uniformed stripling marched past. The regiment 
was to embark at Deptford for Ostend. It was a 
trying little voyage. In these days of more or less 
comfortable, rapidly moving steamers which cover 
the distance from the Thames to the Belgian coast 
in a few hours, there are sufficient terrors in contrary 
winds for passengers who are poor sailors. Wolfe's 


boat was kept several days at sea before the sand 
dunes came in sight and Ostend could be made. That 
trip was certainly torture to Wolfe, but whatever his 
sufferings, whatever his sense of loss of dignity from 
sea-sickness, this son of Mars faced Father Neptune 
in all his moods with the same indomitable spirit 
he presented to every enemy. In Belgium, Duroure's 
men marched straight away to Bruges and Ghent. 
What the country hereabouts lacks in physical 
beauty it more than makes good in the romance of 
its history, of its alternating struggles for freedom 
and its commercial and manufacturing achievements. 
Wolfe's thoughts would be more of Marlborough and 
his father than of Charles the Bold, Maximilian or 
Charles V ; more still of the protagonists in the 
present struggle, Frederick II and Louis XV and 
Maria Theresa, Prince Charles of Lorraine, Due de 
Noailles, and the Earl of Stair who was in command 
of the British troops ; but the appeal of the past is 
the animating force of the most commonplace present, 
and the present with which Wolfe was now directly 
interested was far from commonplace. 
Nine . The reception of Wolfe and his companions in 

Ghent. Ghent where he was quartered, was anything but 

pleasing. There was no enthusiasm for the cause of 
Maria Theresa, and the people, hating to be dragged 
into a dispute from which, whoever else might gain, 
they would derive no sort of benefit, were often 
openly hostile to the British. English soldiers and 
the Ghentois came to blows on the smallest provo- 
cation, and the magistrates threatened with whipping, 
burning in the back and expulsion anyone who 
should affront the British. Wolfe, eager to get 
away to the front, had to possess his spirit in patience. 


Ready to march at a couple of hours' notice, he was 
not called upon to move throughout that summer and 
winter. Nine months were spent in Ghent. Wolfe 
beguiled himself with professional studies, which the 
fortifications of the quaint old Belgian town assisted ; 
with the flute, on which he performed like another 
ardent soldier, Frederick the Great himself ; and 
with visits to the grand new play-house which had 
within recent years been started in the town. There 
were plenty of officers in the place, including his 
friend, George Warde, so that " we never want 
company," and he conversed " a little with the ladies 
who are very civil and talk French." He looked 
forward soon to seeing his brother Edward in Flanders, 
and " in all probability," he said, " before next year 
is over we may know something of our trade." 
Edward Wolfe apparently reached Ghent in the first 
weeks of 1743. He was lucky in being able to join 
his brother's regiment. His ambition was strictly 
fraternal. He wished to follow in James's footsteps, 
but his constitution was even more delicate than his 
brother's and the spirit was martial beyond the 
capabilities of the body. 

In February a move was at last made from Ghent. Adjutant 
On the way to Germany — " at St. Tron in the Bishop- at sixteen - 
ric of Liege " — Wolfe wrote home that they had had 
bad weather on the march, that his strength was not 
so great as he imagined — " I never come into quarters 
without aching hips and knees " — that the road 
ahead was trying and that he intended to hire a horse. 
He would march on foot one day and ride the next — 
sharing the horse probably with Edward. Never- 
theless, he said, " I'm in the greatest spirits in the 
world. " The language of the country was a difficulty. 

3— (2213) 


Useful as French was, Edward said he would once 
have gone without his dinner if he had not been able 
to ask for it in Latin. On the 9th June the British- 
Hanoverian forces arrived at an awkward bend 
of the Main, near Aschaffenburg, and were joined 
by an Austrian force under the Duke d'Arenberg. 
There were repeated alarms that the Due de Noailles, 
who was on the other side of the river with 60,000 
men, was about to attack. Edward was actually in 
a skirmish and received his baptism of fire on the night 
of the 20th. James was called upon to face another 
ordeal. He was given the position of adjutant. How 
it happened that this boy of sixteen was entrusted 
with so important a post is not clear. On the 21st 
June he wrote from Aschaffenburg that King George 
had joined the army, and they would soon know what 
they were going to do. The situation was critical. 
The King found the forces under the Earl of Stair 
in something very like a trap, from which they could 
hope to escape only with heavy loss, if they escaped 
at all. They could not go forward ; to stay where 
they were meant that their supplies were cut off and 
the French from across the river could make so many 
targets of them ; in retreat lay the one slender chance 
and that only if it could be accomplished before the 
enemy were alive to the movement. The King 
ordered the retreat. Such was the desperate plight 
in which incompetence had involved the British and 
their allies at the time when Wolfe was to fight his 
first grim battle. And the duties of an adjutant, 
in any case severe, but more severe in these 
circumstances than usual, devolved on him. 
Sthjune Silently on the morning of the 27th June the allies 
1743. began to retrace their steps in the direction of Hanau. 


The movement was observed by de Noailles, who 

instantly sent a strong force across the river to cut 

them up or secure their surrender. Happily British 

commanders are not alone in their mistakes. The 

Due de Grammont, who was entrusted with this vital 

manoeuvre, instead of waiting for the retreating army 

at a defile, advanced to meet it on equal terms, and 

actually exposed his men to the fire of his own 

batteries across the river. The battle of Dettingen 

has been variously described. Military authority 

tells us that the honour which the generals had 

compromised was saved once again by " the fine old 

quality of British doggedness," x and endorses the 

contemptuous description of George II — for which 

Thackeray seems mainly responsible 2 — standing in 

front of his troops " in the preposterous position of 

a fencing-master." George II has to bear the burden 

of many failings, but prejudice seems a little hard on 

his doings at Dettingen. His courage was never 

questioned, and at Dettingen he was only doing his 

best, and a fine best it was, to get the army out of the 

hole which others had made for it. James Wolfe's 

long letter to his father written from Hochst, on the 

4th July, is so interesting from both the military and 

the personal point of view, written as it was by a boy, 

that I cannot refrain from quoting it at some length. 

After explaining that the fatigues of the day put him 

very much " out of order," Wolfe says — 

" The army was drawn out this day se'nnight between a wood Wolfe 's 
and the river Main, near a little village, called Dettingen, in description, 
five lines — two of foot and three of horse. The cannon on 
both sides began to play about nine o'clock in the morning, 
and we were exposed to the fires of theirs (said to be above 

1 Col. C. B. Brackenbury : Frederick the Great, p. 91. 
* The Four Georges, Oxford Edition, p. 735. 


fifty pieces) for near three hours, a great part of which flanked 
us terribly from the other side the water. The French were 
all the while drawn up in sight of us on this side. About 
twelve o'clock we marched towards them ; they advanced 
likewise, and, as near as I can guess, the fight began about 
one. The Gens d'Armes, or M ousquetaires Gris, attacked 
the first line, composed of nine regiments of English foot, 
and four or five of Austrians, and some Hanoverians. They 
broke through the Scotch Fusileers, who they began the attack 
upon ; but before they got to the second line, out of two 
hundred there were not forty living, so they wheeled, and 
came between the first and second line (except an officer 
with a standard, and four or five men, who broke through the 
second line and were taken by some of Hawley's regiment 
of Dragoons), and about twenty of them escaped to their 
army, riding through an interval that was made for our Horse 
to advance. These unhappy men were of the first families 
in France. Nothing, I believe, could be more rash than their 

Wolfe then briefly describes the second attack on 
the left by the Horse, and enlarges on the third and 
last attack by the Foot — 

"We advanced towards one another ; our men in high spirits 
and very impatient for fighting, being elated with beating 
the French Horse, part of which advanced towards us ; while 
the rest attacked our Horse, but were soon driven back by the 
great fire we gave them. The Major and I (for we had neither 
Colonel nor Lieutenant-Colonel), before they came near, 
were employed in begging and ordering the men not to fire 
at too great a distance, but to keep it till the enemy should 
come near us ; but to little purpose. The whole fired when 
they thought they could reach them, which had like to have 
ruined us. We did very little execution with it. So soon 
as the French saw we presented they all fell down, and when 
we had fired they got up, and marched close to us in tolerable 
good order, and gave us a brisk fire, which put us into some 
disorder and made us give way a little, particularly ours and 
two or three more regiments, who were in the hottest of it. 
However, we soon rallied again, and attacked them with 
great fury, which gained us a complete victory, and forced 
the enemy to retire in great haste. 'Twas luck that we did 
give way a little, for our men were loading all the while, and 
it gave room for an Austrian regiment to move into an 
interval, rather too little before, who charged the enemy with 


great bravery and resolution. So soon as the French re- 
treated, the line halted, and we got the sad news of the death 
of as good and brave a man as any amongst us, General 
Clayton, who was killed by a musquet ball in the last attack. 
His death gave us all sorrow, so great was the opinion we had 
of him, and was the hindrance of anything further being done 
that day. He had, 'tis said, orders for pursueing the enemy, 
and if we had followed them, as was expected, it is the opinion 
of most people, that of 27,000 men they brought over the 
Main, they would not have repassed with half that number. 
A great number of their officers and men were taken prisoners. 
Their loss is computed to be between six and seven thousand 
men, and ours three thousand. 

" His Majesty was in the midst of the fight ; and the Duke 
behaved as bravely as a man could do. He had a musquet- 
shot through the calf of his leg. I had several times the 
honour of speaking with him just as the battle began, and 
was often afraid of his being dash'd to pieces by the cannon- 
balls. He gave his orders with a great deal of calmness, and 
seemed quite unconcerned. The soldiers were in high delight 
to have him so near them. I sometimes thought I had lost 
poor Ned, when I saw arms, legs, and heads beat off close by 
him. He is called ' The Old Soldier,' and very deservedly. 
A horse I rid of the Colonel's, at the first attack was shot in 
one of his hinder legs, and threw me ; so I was obliged to 
do the duty of an adjutant all that and the next day on foot, 
in a pair of heavy boots. I lost with the horse, furniture and 
pistols which cost me ten ducats ; but three days after the 
battle, got the horse again, with the ball in him, — and he is 
now almost well again, — but without furniture and pistols." 

Dettingen had its effect on the fortunes both of A marked 
the war and of James Wolfe. The French, pressed man - 
elsewhere by Prince Charles, withdrew to their own 
frontier ; the allies, after their retreat to Hanau, made 
Worms their headquarters, and were neither molested 
nor in a mood to attempt to follow up their advantage. 
As for Wolfe, his services were recognized not only by 
his official appointment as adjutant but within a week 
or two by promotion to a lieutenancy. England 
rejoiced inordinately over the victory ; Handel 
composed his finest Te Deum, and George II was a 


popular hero when he returned to London. The 

campaign of 1743 was over, and Wolfe went into 

winter quarters with his regiment at Ostend. He 

would have liked to take a trip home, but was refused 

permission, though it was granted to Edward. James 

was clearly a marked man. His presence with the 

troops was indispensable, and in the following June 

he was advanced a step further. He became captain 

in Barrell's Regiment, and curiously enough the 

promotion and transfer, whilst an official mark of his 

worth, kept him for the rest of his stay in Belgium 

from further participation in serious fighting. In 

the spring of 1744 Marshal Saxe, in command of the 

French, opened the campaign with a powerful army 

which scared the Dutch into surrendering Ypres, and 

was soon overrunning half Belgium. Wolfe, under 

General Wade's command, was on the banks of the 

Scheldt, where the allies awaited attack, but Prince 

Charles with 60,000 Austrians, crossed the Rhine and 

half the French forces were precipitately withdrawn 

to protect France itself from invasion. 

The death October came, and Wolfe was again taking up 
of Edward. ~ x , , ° 

winter quarters in Ghent, when a heavy sorrow came 

to him and to his family. His brother Edward, 

much loved and affectionately known as the Old 

Soldier — he was not seventeen, — was taken ill and died. 

James, near at hand but not understanding that the 

illness might terminate fatally, was not with him at 

the last, and the thought of the lad dying with no 

special friend, save his faithful servant, to watch over 

him, was a bitter one to his brother for many a day. 

James put his feelings into a letter to his mother, 

full of manly grief and of the philosophy which 

usually comes of a much more intimate experience of 


the world. It hardly strikes one as characteristic 
of seventeen years of age. Were there ever two more 
precocious warriors than James and Edward Wolfe ? 
The letter is dated "Ghent, 29th October, 1744 


" Poor Ned wanted nothing but the satisfaction of seeing 
his deafest friends to leave the world with the greatest 
tranquillity. He often called on us. It gives me many 
uneasy hours when I reflect on the possibility there was of 
my being with him some time before he died. God knows it 
was being too exact, and not apprehending the danger the 
poor fellow was in ; and even that would not have hindered it 
had I received the physician's first letter. I know you won't 
be able to read this paragraph without shedding tears, as 
I do writing it ; but there is a satisfaction even in giving way 
to grief now and then. 'Tis what we owe the memory of 
a dear friend. 

" He was an honest and a good lad, had lived very well, 
and always discharged his duty with the cheerfulness becom- 
ing a good officer. He lived and died as a son of you two 
should, which, I think, is saying all I can. I have the melan- 
choly satisfaction to find him regretted by his friends and 
acquaintances. His Colonel is particularly concerned for 
him, and desired I would assure you of it. There was in him 
the prospect (when ripened with experience) of good under- 
standing and judgement, and an excellent soldier. You'll 
excuse my dwelling so long on this cruel subject, but in relating 
this to you, vanity and partiality are banished. A strong 
desire to do justice to his memory occasions it. 

' ' There was no part of his life that makes him dearer to me 
than that where you have often mentioned — he pined after me. 
It often makes me angry that any hour of my life should pass 
without thinking of him ; and when I do think of him, that 
though all the reasons I have to lament his loss are now as 
forcible as at the moment of his departure, I don't find my 
heart swell with the same sorrow as it did at that time. 
Nature is ever too good in blotting out the violence of affliction. 
For all tempers (as mine is) too much given to mirth, it is 
often necessary to revive grief in one's memory." 

James Wolfe was indeed too completely absorbed 1745— the 
in his profession to admit of sorrow having more than ^f?L 
a momentarily recurrent sway when the first 


poignancy was over. He had already grasped the 
fact that British poverty in soldierly attainment was 
his opportunity ; preferment came to him, contrary 
to the usual practice, as the reward of merit, and he 
was prepared to take any post which might be denied 
to nepotism, wealth, or social influence. Whilst 
Wolfe in 1744-5 was busy in the cause of self-efficiency, 
France, against whom that efficiency was one day to 
be used with crushing effect, was employing every 
weapon at command to paralyse the arm of England. 
From the time when Louis XIV pledged his word to 
James II on his death-bed to assist his son to the 
British throne, — a pledge explained away on the very 
morrow when its consequences were realised — the 
French had always the Stuart card to play. In 1744 
Louis XV encouraged Charles Edward to attempt 
the invasion of England. In 1745 the Pretender 
managed to do on the Scottish coast what he had 
failed to do on the English. It was a black year for 
England. The Duke of Cumberland had succeeded 
to the command of the allies in Flanders, had been 
badly beaten by Marshal Saxe at Fontenoy on 11th 
May, and had been unable to stay the advance of the 
victorious French at any point. Wolfe's old regiment 
(Duroure's) was among those that suffered most at 
Fontenoy ; his own, of which he was made brigade- 
major on June 12th, was not present ; he was at 
Lessines when Ghent was taken by the French ; and 
a couple of months later he and the rest of the British 
forces were recalled to England to deal with the 



When Wolfe landed in England after an absence of France and 

three and a half years he found the country already the Stuarts. 

in a state of rapidly growing alarm at the news from 

Scotland. Men had not forgotten the misery which 

the rising in '15 had occasioned on both sides of the 

Tweed, and the movements of the Young Pretender, 

as Charles Edward was called, soon showed the 

necessity for energetic measures. They were not 

forthcoming. The Government and the nation had 

been taken completely by surprise. They seem to 

have thought that the abortive effort of the previous 

year, when a French fleet intended for the invasion 

of England in Stuart as well as Bourbon interests, 

was stopped by Sir John Norris, and scattered by a 

storm, had disposed of the peril of invasion. As a 

fact Louis XV in 1745 did refuse to grant Charles 

Edward's request that a new expedition should be 

fitted out. The Prince, however, was determined to 

strike a blow on his father's behalf, and told King 

Louis that he would make the attempt even though 

he had to go with a solitary footman. 

Towards the end of July he landed at Arisaig, in Charles 
Moidart, at the south-west corner of Inverness-shire, Edward in 
with seven followers, " The Seven Men of Moidart." Scotland. 
His presence in Scotland was not known to the 
Government for nearly three weeks. On the 19th 
August he raised his red and white-silk standard at 
Glenfinnan. x Supporters rallied round him apace ; 

1 P. Hume Brown : A Short History of Scotland, p. 539. 



the character of the adventure fired the Highland 
imagination, and Sir John Cope had only a small force 
at Edinburgh with which to challenge him. If the 
French had backed up Charles Edward in July, 1745, 
as they were prepared to back him in 1744 and con- 
templated doing three months later when he was as 
far south as Derby, England's chances of escape from 
a second Stuart restoration might have been slender. 
The French marshal, Belleisle, while a prisoner in 
England, said that he would " engage with 5,000 
scullions of the French army to conquer England," 1 
and Henry Fox on the 5th September, 1745, wrote : 
" England, Wade says (and I believe), is for the first 
comer, and if you can tell whether the 6,000 Dutch 
and the ten battalions of English or 5,000 French or 
Spaniards will be here first, you know our fate." 2 
Cope instead of trying to bar the Pretender's way 
south, and not feeling himself strong enough to pro- 
ceed against him, adopted the extraordinary course 
of marching to Inverness. If he had been a traitor 
he could not have done more precisely what the rebels 
wished. He left the way to Edinburgh and England 
open. By the time Cope got back Prince Charles 
had proclaimed his father King James VIII in the 
Palace of Holyrood, and was ready to meet the English 
force not merely with vastly superior numbers, but 
with the sympathies, tacit or avowed, of the larger 
proportion of the Scottish people. At Prestonpans 
on the 21st September Cope's army was surprised as 
the dawn broke — it was Charles Edward's favourite 
method of attack — and in ten minutes it had ceased 
to exist. For a month the Prince unmolested held 

1 Horace Walpole to Sir Horace Mann, July 26th, 1745. 
a Coxe : Memoirs of Lord Walpole, p. 284. 


royal Court at Holyrood ; it was precious time wasted 
from his point of view. Then he decided to try his 
fortunes in England. 

Wolfe comes upon the scene about this time. He With Wade 
was with General Wade, who had ten thousand men f* 


at Newcastle. Wolfe's father, now Major-General, 
who was so far worn with his services, especially in the 
West Indies, that he was more fit for the fireside than 
the field, was there also. As usual, Wolfe was called 
upon to discharge duties beyond his official station. 
Judging from an order dated the 2nd November, 
1745, that £930 was to be paid to him " for allowance 
of 93 baggage horses to the seven battalions lately 
come from Flanders," he was acting Deputy-Quarter- 
master-General. A letter to his mother, in which 
he seeks to remove her fears for his father's safety, 
is chiefly interesting for the hint it affords of the views 
held as to the rebel forces. She need not be concerned 
he wrote, " for 'tis the opinion of most men that these 
rebels won't stand against the King's troops." The 
annihilation of Cope's little force, mainly if not wholly 
composed of men who had never seen service, did not 
weigh seriously with the veterans of Dettingen and 
Fontenoy. They who had learned their " trade " in 
conflict with Noailles' and Saxe's trained and seasoned 
battalions would know how to dispose of a horde of 
wild Highlanders. 

Wade heard that the Prince was near Carlisle. The 
He tried to get across country to intercept him. Bad southern 
weather and boggy land baffled his efforts. He 
moved ten miles in fifteen hours. On the second day 
news came that Carlisle had surrendered, and Wade 
returned to Newcastle. The rebels continued their 
southern march light-heartedly. What a march that 


must have been. They came within 120 miles of the 
capital. London wondered what was going to 
happen, and trembled. How one can picture the 
kilted and tartaned hillmen tramping with the Prince 
at their head, and breaking the monotony of the 
march with skirl of bagpipe and snatch of Highland 
song or some old Jacobite refrain such as — 

"Then look for no peace 

For the war will never cease 

Till the King shall enjoy his own again." 

At Derby the Prince's officers seem suddenly to 
have lost their nerve ; or they were disheartened 
by lack of serious demonstration in favour of the 
Stuarts. They decided that they must turn back. 
The Prince protested vigorously and the men rent the 
air with cries of indignation. 1 If they had suffered a 
check from superior forces there might be some 
reason for retreat, but to retreat without striking a 
blow was sheer humiliation. The Prince would have 
protested more stoutly still, possibly with more 
effect, if he had known that Louis XV, impressed by 
his progress, was assembling troops at Calais and 
Boulogne to assist him. But the protests of Prince 
and clansmen alike were vain : the officers insisted. 
Back they went, all the spirit gone out of the march, 
the Prince the most dejected member of his army ; 
back again through the northern counties, pillaging 
and destroying with all the ruthless disregard which 
the Lowlander associated with the very name of 
Highlander. Whatever sympathy there may have 
been for the Stuart cause when the Pretender went 
south was dissipated by his followers on the return. 

1 Mackintosh : Story of the Nations : Scotland, p. 268. 


Back in Scotland, the Prince visited Glasr w, Falkirk, 
which was then already enjoying the prosperity. di)£t x 7th J an -> 
came to it from the Act of Union ; he requisi. m — 1 x ' 4 * 
supplies of boots and clothes which his men sadly 
needed, and then made for Stirling. Wade was 
superseded in his command by Hawley — " Hangman" 
Hawley, as he was called. Hawley, who had moved 
up to Edinburgh, went to the relief of Stirling, and 
the armies met at Falkirk, where Hawley was nearly 
surprised. It was the morning of the 17th January ; 
a bleak sleet-laden wind blew full in the faces of the 
King's troops ; the men were half frozen, and the 
wet which found its way to their very skins found its 
way also to their ammunition. The conditions were 
all against the King's men, and Wolfe, frail in con- 
stitution, must have suffered keenly from the expo- 
sure. But there was little time to think of personal 
discomforts. Wolfe and his comrades were to undergo 
a new experience. Hawley began the fight by a 
cavalry charge ; the Highlanders reserved their fire 
and met the charge by a point-blank volley, which 
threw the horses and men who were not killed on the 
spot, into hopeless disorder. Remnants came back 
to scatter confusion in their own lines, and a few 
reformed to charge again. Whilst the pitiless sleet 
nearly blinded the waiting infantry, the Highlanders 
rushed upon them with a fury and a yell such as 
no soldier in the Continental wars had known. 
They bore down the first line and apparently were 
only checked by the men with whom Wolfe was 
fighting. To this day no one knows precisely what 
happened. Chaos reigned, and was not relieved till 
both armies took to their heels, or something very 
like it. The Highlanders bolted, and Hawley 


abandoned his camp and his guns, falling back on 



', v 7 olfe makes light of the encounter ; he said 

" 'twas not a battle as neither side would light," and 

he anticipated that it would be " told in a much worse 

light than it really is " ; he attributed the loss of the 

guns to the drivers who ran off with the horses — a 

version which is at variance with the accusation of 

misconduct brought against an officer who committed 

suicide rather than face court-martial. Anyway 

the result of the fight was sufficiently inconclusive 

to give the Jacobites, as one chronicler put it, "a 

handle to vaunt." Some students of the battle are 

strong in their censure of Charles Edward and his 

officers because they did not follow Hawley and 

destroy him as completely as they destroyed Cope, 

the truth probably being that they did not because 

they could not. Hawley attributed the reverse or 

whatever it was to the misleading accounts of the 

numbers and discipline of the enemy supplied by the 

Intelligence Department in Edinburgh : " You see 

and I feel the effect of it. I never saw troops fire in 

platoons more regularly, make their motions and 

evolutions quicker, or attack with more bravery or 

in better order than those Highlanders did at the 

battle of Falkirk. And these are the very men that 

you represented as a parcel of raw and undisciplined 

vagabonds. No Jacobite could have done more hurt 

to the King's faithful friends, or done more service to 

his inveterate enemies." 1 

1 Quoted by A. C. Ewald ( Life and Times of Prince Charles 
Edward Stuart) from a pamphlet among the Scottish State 


History does not accord a high place among Preparing 
generals to the Duke of Cumberland, but we know decisive 
that Wolfe held his abilities in considerable esteem — encounter, 
an esteem which would hardly have survived his later 
campaigns — and it is quite certain that new confidence 
was inspired in the British ranks when the Duke with 
reinforcements reached Edinburgh in hot haste to 
take over the command. Edinburgh received him 
with every possible demonstration of joy, and he 
proceeded to deal with the situation in a spirit which 
hitherto had been lacking. Falkirk convinced the 
sceptical and confirmed the pessimistic that the rising 
was no mere holiday adventure. The Prince after 
Falkirk resumed his attentions to Stirling, but with 
the coming of the Duke he retired to the north and 
took up his head-quarters at Inverness. The Duke 
endeavoured to follow him up, but with all the energy 
possible thrown into the pursuit, physical difficulties 
augmented by meteorological, could only be overcome 
by patience. It was decided to go into quarters at 
Aberdeen till the weather improved and to utilise 
the interval in preparing the King's forces for the 
decisive encounter, more particularly by exercises 
which might fit them the better to meet the peculiar 
tactics of the Highlanders. It was an interval which 
was not favourable to the Jacobites. Their provisions 
ran short, and there was much suffering and 

In the second week of April the British were on the The eve of 
move across country. The Prince with a force Culloden « 
variously estimated at eight or nine thousand, took 
up his position on Drummossie — or Culloden-moor, 
with Culloden House on his left ; it was the 15th, the 
Duke's birthday, and the hungry Highlanders were 


informed that the event was being celebrated with 
feasting and revelry. Here was another opportunity 
for a surprise. A night march and an attack in the 
early morning before the effects of the day's indulgence 
had worn off might add Culloden to Charles Edward's 
victories, provide his men with food, and bring him 
one step nearer the British throne. Fortune did not 
favour him this time ; morning broke before his army 
got in touch with the British outposts, and there was 
nothing for it but retreat. Wolfe thought the failure 
was due to " some unforeseen accident, together with 
a great deal of superstition." A few hours later and 
the English, ten thousand strong, in three lines 
battle-arrayed, confronted the Stuart forces on the 
moor. Wolfe was on the left of the first line. Before 
the battle began the Duke addressed his men, remind- 
ing them of what depended on their success, bidding 
them forget Prestonpans and Falkirk, and warning 
The them that no quarter would be given by the High- 

m°«Hn!? er landers — " a statement which, though quite justified 
by the traditional practice of the Highlanders, was," 
says Mr. Bradley, " untrue so far as this particular 
campaign had gone." 1 It is a question whether 
before Culloden orders were or were not issued by 
Lord George Murray, who was in command of the 
Prince's army, that no quarter was to be given to the 
Elector's troops " on any account whatever." 
Mr. Andrew Lang says Lord George's general orders, 
of which two copies are in possession of the Duke of 
Athole, do not contain the words. 2 That there was 
a belief in the genuineness of the " no-quarter " 

1 Wolfe, p. 42. 

2 History of Scotland, vol. iv, p. 517. 



orders is undoubted, and that belief illustrates the 
character of the fight. It meant that one army or 
the other was, for all practical purposes, to be 

The battle opened with an artillery duel, in which Culloden, 
the English had much the best of it. Lord George l6th A P ril - 
Murray hoped that the Duke of Cumberland might I74 
hurl his men at the Highlanders after the manner of 
Hawley, but the Duke had quite other views. His 
guns played on the clansmen with precision, driving 
them to desperation and placing them beyond the 
control of their officers. When at last they could 
stand it no longer, the Macintoshes set the example 
by a rush upon the English front line of Foot, which, 
says Wolfe in a letter to his Uncle Walter, " they did 
with more fury than prudence, throwing down their 
firearms and advancing with drawn swords." By 
reserving their fire the English did deadly musketry 
work, but nothing could wholly withstand the mad 
onslaught. The Highlanders broke down the centre 
of the first English line, and of Wolfe's regiment 120 
officers and men were killed and wounded. But 
Wolfe had the remnant well in hand, the second line 
stood firm and when Cumberland's cavalry began to 
move the Highlanders lost their nerve. They were 
cut down as they attempted to get away, and in a 
quarter of an hour from the time the battle began 
the fugitives who managed to escape the dragoons 
were all that was left of Charles Edward's army. That 
was the end of the Young Pretender and of the Jacob- 
ites so far as fighting went. The Prince after months 
of hiding and adventures which have added to the 
romance of his name, found himself safe once more 
on the Continent, and the Duke of Cumberland set 

4— (2213) 






about the task of crushing the Highlanders who had 
in any way supported the Stuart cause, by methods 
which secured for him the title of Butcher. 

Wolfe was called upon to take his share in the 
unpleasant business. Never again were the clansmen 
to be in a position to challenge the right of the House 
of Hanover to the British crown. The story of course 
loses nothing from the fact that it is told chiefly by 
Stuart sympathisers. Before the action of Cumber- 
land is condemned out of hand we must remember 
that this was not the first occasion on which the 
Highlanders had carried fire and slaughter into 
innocent homes in the interest of the Stuarts, and 
a Scotch historian has reminded us that the barbarities 
of Cumberland's army were no worse than those of 
most other armies in similar circumstances. It is not 
quite reasonable to judge it by modern standards. 
Nor were the English soldiers the sole offenders. The 
clansmen in the Duke's army were at least as brutal 
in their treatment of the vanquished. 1 However 
uncongenial compliance might be, Wolfe would 
certainly not have been backward in enforcing the 
orders of his chief. A certain story told of him and 
the Duke is probably entitled to no sort of credence. 
Wolfe, it is said, was with the commander-in-chief 
after the battle when they came across a wounded 
Highlander, whose glance of hatred the Duke resented. 
" Wolfe," said his Royal Highness, " shoot me that 
Highland scoundrel who dares to show us such 
insolence." " My commission," said Wolfe, "is at 
your royal highness's disposal, but I never can 
consent to become an executioner." The story, it 

1 Macrae : Scotland Since the Union, p. 73. 


strikes one, is told not to illustrate the humanity of 
Wolfe so much as the brutality of the Duke. 

Culloden was one of the battles that have decided An interval 
the fate of countries. Wolfe played his part with and fresh 
a soldierly distinction which ever after ensured for orders - 
him the favour of his chief. It was near the end of 
July when the Duke left Scotland to receive an ovation 
in London and a pension of £25,000 a year. What 
Wolfe did throughout that summer can only be 
surmised from such incidental allusion as is to be 
found in local guide-books and Scott's introduction 
to Rob Roy. He is said to have commanded the 
Fort of Inversnaid in the gorge not far from Loch 
Lomond. " When we find the celebrated General 
Wolfe commanding in it," says Sir Walter, " the 
imagination is strongly affected by the variety of 
time and events which the circumstance brings 
simultaneously to the recollection." Wright is, 
however, of opinion that as the fort was in ruins in 
1746, there must be some confusion with Wolfe's 
later doings in Scotland. x Sir Walter states that the 
fort was " a third time repaired after the extinction 
of civil discord," and that would probably be a year 
or two later. We must therefore take up the thread 
of Wolfe's career after he left Scotland in the winter 
of 1746 under orders again for Flanders. For the first 
time for more than four years he was to have a short 
holiday which he spent with his father and mother 
in London. They had shifted their home to Old 
Burlington Street. How delightful would be a glimpse 
of this young veteran with his parents ; the wonder of 
friends who hardly knew whether to treat him as boy 
or man. He disposed of his fortnight or so between 

1 Life of Wolfe, p. 92. 


the domestic hearth and the attractions and distrac- 
tions of London, the London of Johnson and Hogarth, 
of Garrick and Fielding. And then he was off once 
more to join the Austrians and the Dutch in their 
efforts to withstand the redoubtable Saxe. France 
had not failed to take full advantage of the diversion 
caused by the troubles of England. Flanders was 
practically in possession of her troops. Her objective 
now was Maestricht. The English threw themselves 
into the new campaign with all the greater zeal in the 
hope of punishing Louis XV for his support of the 
Stuart cause. The Duke of Cumberland resumed 
command of the Austro-Dutch-British forces, now 
120,000 strong. There was some delay in taking 
the field, thanks to the inadequate commissariat 
arrangements made by the Dutch and Austrian 
Two rare Wolfe's letters at this time, judging from the rare 

letters. specimens that have survived, were a delightful blend 

of youthful gossip and soldierly appreciation of the 
situation. In one, written on the 1st June, 1747, to 
Miss Lacey, 1 the tone of which shows her to have been 
a very special friend and confidante, if not something 
closer, he talked of certain " dear girls " and the 
injustice of any doubts as to their constancy. But 
his thoughts were not only for the " dear girls." 
" We are here," he said, " the guardians of the 
Republick and since their reformation I begin to think 
them worth our care." In another letter dated " the 
camp at Westerloo, June 22nd," he referred to 
Maestricht, which the Duke was presently to make 

1 Miss Lacey according to an endorsement on this letter 
became Mrs. Pool ; she was probably a relative of the famous 
General Lacey in the Russian service. 


a supreme effort to save. " The implacable enemy," 
he said, " may depend on their former success and 
use it as a motive to new enterprises." In that case 
Miss Lacey might be assured that nothing a fine army 
could undertake would be wanting. Something that 
she had told him or failed to tell him was responsible 
for the first reference we get to his relation with the 
fair sex. " You have," he wrote, "left me in a doubt 
that is hurtful to my repose. Sure it must never 
happen that a soldier is unhappy in his love," and he 
was apprehensive lest some unworthy person should 
triumph in " the frailty of my countrywomen." 
He sent his wishes for the health and happiness of 
Miss Lacey 's " pretty friends " and confessed : ' I 
may say to my praise that no man has a greater 
consideration for the sex than your obedient humble 
servant, J. W." 

Wolfe, who liked to " catch himself disposed to Laffeldt, 
serious thoughts," was soon to discover that the 2nd July, 
French did presume on their previous success. The x 747- 
Duke encountered Saxe at Laffeldt on the 2nd July. 
That day's battle was intended to dispose once and 
for all of Maria Theresa's claims and to confirm the 
French in their mastery of the Netherlands. Saxe 
had an army of 150,000 men, and Louis had actually 
come to witness the triumph. If the Dutch had 
fought with the same spirit and stood their ground 
or rallied when forced to give way, with the same 
dogged determination that the English showed 
throughout the day, the French might have been 
badly beaten ; at the moment when the fortunes 
of the day seemed to be in favour of the allies the 
Dutch threw everything into confusion by retreating 
and the Duke of Cumberland was only saved from 


capture by a furious cavalry charge led by Sir John 
Ligonier, who was himself taken prisoner. The 
charge saved the situation. The allies were able to 
retire on Maestricht, and the French, who had lost 
ten thousand men, abandoned all idea for the present 
of another attempt to take it. The battle of Laffeldt 
cost the allies 5,000 men in killed and wounded, the 
British casualties being disproportionately severe, 
for there was some truth in Louis XV's remark that 
' The English not only paid all but fought all." 
Wolfe's regiment was in the thick of the fight, and 
Wolfe was wounded, though happily not seriously ; 
his services were sufficiently conspicuous to command 
the Duke's public thanks. The ensuing winter Wolfe 
was permitted to spend at home. Hence, the twenty- 
first anniversary of his birth was celebrated in Old 
Burlington Street. No conventional majority func- 
tion that ! At an age when youth usually begins to 
think of settling down to the serious business of life, 
he had already put in six years in the hard school of 
professional experience. 
Peace and Returning to Holland in March, 1748, Brigade- 
profes- Major Wolfe was sent to join a detachment of British 

prospects, troops with the Austrians near Breda — a post which 
did not appeal to him. Negotiations with a view to 
peace had been opened at Aix-la-Chapelle, but the 
fighting went on. Maestricht was besieged by Saxe, 
and Wolfe had some hope of assisting " a fortunate 
stroke " which might prove the total ruin of the 
besieging army. In a letter from Osterhout dated 
the 12th April he gave the purport of a conversation 
with Adjutant-General Yorke, who said some " civil 
things." The Duke, according to the Adjutant- 
General, had expressed great concern at not having it 


in his power yet to serve Wolfe, but intimated his 
" just intention " to give him a major's commissio 
without payment so soon as opportunity served. 
Wolfe, professing himself to be beyond the reach of 
disappointment, did not expect much to come of this. 
The negotiations for peace were so far advanced that 
the preliminaries were signed and orders for the 
cessation of fighting were issued, and Wolfe in the 
intervals of affairs was speculating as to his future. J* *?^" 8 
Much as he had done, efficient as he had made himself f u t ure 
according to the standard of his fellows, he was aware 
that in general education he was lamentably wanting, 
and that in regard to military science, with all his 
experience and application, he had mastered but its 
fringe. Without funds — and £10,000 he said might 
be " prettily disposed of " — something more than 
patient merit was necessary to preferment in the days 
of purchase, of " family compacts " in small things 
as in large, of social and political wire-pulling which 
there was little attempt even to gloss, certainly not 
disguise. His parents did all they could for him 
financially, and his mother always had her eye open 
with a view to a rich marriage that should place her 
son beyond the necessity of schemes of economy in 
which, as he humorously put it, spare diet and small 
beer had their place. Wolfe's ideas of economy 
were not those of the young men of the time. He did 
not waste his substance in riotous living, fine clothes, 
and high play, and then appeal to the paternal purse 
on the ground that the society in which he mixed 
made economy impossible. But " an unlucky know- 
ledge of the immediate necessity of living well " — in 
other words, his health — made the practice of " par- 
simonious maxims " unwise. If, said Wolfe, the 


paymaster-general " knew how well we feed, and that 
sometimes the table for four is crowded, he would 
be jealous of our emoluments and censure our extra- 
vagance, refuse perhaps our arrears, and cut off the 
Desire to However, to feed the brain rather than the body 

travel. was Wolfe's immediate concern. He ardently desired 

to travel and to study the military systems of other 
nations, of Prussia, of Austria, and of Italy, but the 
opportunity was denied him. He expressed his 
feelings in strong terms against the " settled opinion " 
that an officer should confine himself to his particular 
military functions. Why should men's capacities be 
beaten down so that " no man would ever be fitted 
for a higher employment than he is in ? Tis un- 
accountable that who wishes to see a good army can 
oppose men's enlarging their notions or acquiring that 
knowledge with a little absence which they can't 
possibly meet with at home, especially when they are 
supposed masters of their present employment and 
really acquainted with it. In all other stations in life 
that method is usually pursued which best conduces 
to the knowledge every one naturally wishes to have 
of his own profession." Another letter written by 
Wolfe when he was in camp at Osterhout bears on 
this plaint. He did not believe in limiting the ideas 
of men to their professional pursuits, still less to the 
narrow grooves which sufficed to carry them through 
from point to point. " We military men don't 
accustom ourselves to moral topics, or seldom enter- 
tain one another with subjects which are out of the 
common role from the frequent occasion we have to 
mention our own affairs which in time of war are of 
no small extent and concern. Possibly our manner 


of writing may proceed in some measure from diffi- 
dence and modesty as not caring to attempt things 
we are sensible have been better touched upon ; and 
rather choose to be confined to that particular branch 
of knowledge with which we are supposed to be well 
acquainted." 1 

A new influence entirely outside his profession had Miss 
entered Wolfe's life. During his visit to London in Lawson. 
the winter of 1747-8 he very nearly surrendered to the 
charms of one of Sir Wilfrid Lawson's daughters, a 
maid of honour to the Princess of Wales. The 
capitulation was complete when he returned from the 
Netherlands for good in December, 1748. Wolfe 
might have a tender corner in his heart for Miss Lacey 
and her " pretty friends," but the deeper and more 
abiding passion came to him only when he met Miss 
Lawson. She had an auxiliary merit in the shape 
of a little fortune of some £12,000 — in Wolfe's eyes 
probably a sufficient reinforcement of love's claims, 
but not in his mother's. She found a lady worth 
£30,000 a year, whom she regarded as much more 
fitted to be her son's wife. But in that as in other 
matters the ever-dutiful boy had views of his own, 
and with every desire in the world to " oblige," he 
was constrained to obduracy. " Sure it must never 
happen that a soldier can be unhappy in his love " : 
his desire to marry Miss Lawson was the occasion of 
much unhappiness to the author of that oracular line. 

1 Beckles Willson : " Some Unpublished Letters of Genera] 
Wolfe," Nineteenth Century, Sept., 1908. 



Major of With the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle 
the 20th. from which, after seven or eight years' war, nobody 
derived an atom of benefit, the restoration of peace 
apart, England once more found herself governed by 
men of timorous Imperial outlook. That treaty 
made England feel that all her sacrifices had been in 
vain. In America the surrender of Louisbourg, which 
the colonists themselves had captured, to France in 
return for Madras was strongly resented. Pelham, 
the Prime Minister, was a petty Walpole. He was 
convinced that England could not stand alone 
against the House of Bourbon, and the mere thought 
that the French might join hands with the Dutch 
scared him. Under such auspices, Wolfe could not 
hope that the army would provide much opportunity 
for others than coxcombs and uniformed swaggerers. 
The exceptions certainly proved the rule. Yet his 
military ardour burned fiercely : he wanted to know 
all that was best in other systems and was determined 
to secure by force of character what came to others 
by favouritism. The nepotism of the age was not 
altogether without leaven. Wolfe had not been in 
London many days before he was gazetted Major 
of the 20th — his rank abroad had been brevet only — 
and he repaired in January, 1749, to Stirling, where 
the regiment was quartered. His colonel was Lord 
George Sackville ; his lieutenant-colonel the Hon. 



Edward Cornwallis. The prospect of Wolfe's suc- 
ceeding to the position of lieutenant-colonel at an 
early date was a good one, always provided ulterior 
considerations were not allowed to override profes- 
sional. Cornwallis was appointed Governor of Nova 
Scotia, and from the time of Major Wolfe's arrival 
in Stirling he was acting lieutenant-colonel, then as 
always discharging duties beyond his rank. 

In Scotland in 1749 Wolfe took up afresh the task Scottish 
of assisting to reduce the Highlanders to complete changes! 
submission and control. Even two years had made 
some impression. After Culloden, Scotland entered 
on a new era : an era which meant not merely the 
destruction of Jacobite power for harm but the 
disappearance of many distinctive racial symbols. 
Tartan and kilt had to be abandoned, and the High- 
land feudal system, which made the chieftain a law 
unto himself and his followers, had to go. The state 
of Scotland in the first half of the eighteenth century 
was very different from what it became during the 
second half. The Highlanders were as wild and 
lawless a lot as the hillmen of the Indian north-west 
frontier to-day, and some of Scott's facts in his pre- 
faces and notes convey an idea totally at variance 
with the impression left by the romance which he 
built up from them. The Rob Roy of the introduc- 
tion to the novel which bears his name was not 
entirely the Rob Roy of the story. Efforts at 
civilisation tried after '15 had so far failed that more 
strenuous measures were instituted after '45. Of 
these measures the most important was the substitu- 
tion of sheriffs appointed by the Crown for the 
hereditary jurisdiction of the chieftains, who were no 
longer to hold lands on condition of " wardship " or 


military service. To compensate those heads of clans 
who had taken no part in the rebellion for losses 
involved in their change of status, Parliament voted 
£150,000, and as invariably happens in such cases 
the money was allotted in a way that made dissatis- 
faction inevitable. But Scotland did not nurse her 
grievances. Wealth came from the industrial activity 
encouraged by the breaking down of the border bar- 
riers and the opening up of the country by roads 
which Wade had started after '15 and Wolfe and 
others were now to continue. Scotland placed her- 
self as a matter of right on a footing of equality with 
her powerful neighbour and entered boldly into 
rivalry for whatever prizes or rewards the British 
Empire had to offer. x How well she succeeded the 
story of the British Empire east and west amply 
Glasgow in Wolfe's first care in Stirling was for his men. He 
749- instructed his captains to keep a sharp personal eye 

on them, not to be content with sergeant's reports, 
but to visit the men's quarters at unaccustomed times 
and when any man seemed ill or out of condition to 
ascertain the cause in order to find a remedy. A 
couple of months after his arrival Wolfe's regiment 
was transferred to Glasgow. Here as elsewhere in 
Scotland he was seldom in quite congenial surround- 
ings. At times he felt himself rather more out of the 
world of that civilisation of which London was the 
centre than many an officer to-day who is serving on 
the confines of the Empire. Glasgow in 1749 was not 
an ideal jumping-off place for ambitious youth keen 
for military preferment. He did not like Scotland, 
and talked of " the very bloom of life being nipped 
1 Macrae, p. 82. 


in this northern climate." His health in Glasgow 
was especially bad ; he felt the reaction after his 
several campaigns, and the slightest business was a 
trial. He chafed under his inability to prosecute his 
suit with Miss Lawson, and feared that parental 
opposition and long absence would extinguish the 
fire of his passion. Young flames, he said, must be 
constantly fed or " they'll evaporate." He was short 
of means and estimated that after providing for 
necessaries he had Is. Id. per day for pocket-money — 
a condition of things which his father amended 
directly he heard of it. He did not care for the men 
with whom he worked in Glasgow — they were new 
to him and many of them were of " low mettle," 
and if there was any prospect of an everlasting stay 
" I'd rather be a major upon half-pay, by my soul ! " 
Young as he was, he knew that one in his position 
of authority would be surrounded by either " flatterers 
or spies." " The men here are civil, designing, and 
treacherous with their immediate interest always in 
view. They pursue trade with warmth and a neces- 
sary mercantile spirit arising from the baseness of 
their other qualifications. The women, coarse, cold 
and cunning for ever enquiring after men's circum- 
stances : they make that the standard of their good 
breeding." The northern nouveaux riches were as 
little to his taste as the rich incompetents who secured 
the professional plums. 

But grumble as he might, Wolfe, according to his Solace in 
lights — and they were not mere spluttering wicks — books and 
struggled to make the best of his situation. A fnendshl P- 
professor at the college to whom he had a letter of 
recommendation, introduced him to a social evening 
when conversation turned on subjects with which 


Wolfe was unfamiliar. " He was so much mortified 
at not being able to bear any share in it that he next 
morning entreated his friend the professor to put him 
in the way of acquiring the knowledge he found 
himself deficient in. He was gratified in this request 
and he became a most diligent student while he 
continued in Glasgow." 1 A tutor taught him 
mathematics and assisted him to recover his ' ' almost 
lost Latin." He found solace in his books and his 
correspondence. Writing to his friend, Captain 
William Rickson, then in Dublin, he said : " You'll 
believe me when I tell you that, in my esteem, few 
of what we call advantages in life would be worth 
accepting if none were to partake them with us. 
What a wretch is he who lives for himself alone — his 
only aim ! It is the first degree of happiness here 
below that the honest, the brave, and the estimable 
part of mankind, or at least some among them, share 
our success." But of course his real diversion was 
his profession, as to which he indulged in certain 
philosophic reflections in a letter to his father — 

Advantages " That variety incident to a military life gives our pro- 
of military fession some advantages over those of a more even and 
lif e# constant nature. We have all our passions and affections 

roused and exercised, many of which must have wanted their 
proper employment had not suitable occasions obliged us to 
exert them. Few men are acquainted with the degrees of 
their own courage till dangers prove them, and are seldom 
justly informed how far the love of honour or dread of shame 
are superior to the love of life. This is a knowledge to be best 
cquired in an army ; our actions are there in presence of 
the world, to be freely censured or approved. Constancy of 
temper, patience, and all the virtues necessary to make us 
suffer with a good grace, are likewise parts of our character, 
and, as you know, frequently called in to carry us through 
unusual difficulties. 

1 Gentleman' s Magazine, vol. lxi, p. 507. 



" What moderation and humility must he be possessed of 
that bears the good fortune of a successful war with tolerable 
modesty and humility, and he is very excellent in his nature 
who triumphs without insolence. A battle gained is, 1 believe, 
the highest joy mankind is capable of receiving, to him who 
commands ; and his merit must be equal to his success if it 
works no change to his disadvantage. Lastly, a defeat is 
a trial of human resolution, and to labour under the mortifica- 
tion of being surpassed, and live to see the fatal consequences 
that may follow to one's country, is a situation next to 

Wolfe's responsibilities were increased by the 
transfer of his colonel, Lord George Sackville, to 
Dublin. The " difficult and troublesome employment 
of a commander " — still higher duties without the 
rank — devolved upon him, and he had a lively 
consciousness that to keep the passions in bounds 
" when authority and immaturity go together," to 
do justice to good and bad, " reward and punish with 
unbiassed hand," " reconcile the severity of discipline 
with the dictates of humanity," study tempers and 
dispositions, and " oblige without partiality," " dis- 
couraging vice and recommending the reverse at the 
turbulent age of twenty-three " was no mean call 
on one whose natural propensity might be opposed 
to the very courses he upheld. No man, certainly 
none at the mature age of twenty-three, was ever more 
assured of the superior advantages in leadership of 
practice over precept. One of Wolfe's years would 
find it hard to preach and to practice without becom- 
ing somewhat of a prig, at least in the eyes of his 
fellows, but the ample knowledge of his character 
which his letters supply puts any such deduction on 
one side. Wolfe's great idea was to prove himself 
worthy of whatever confidence was reposed in him 
and to make the principles and the integrity which 

and im- 




always marked his father's life the rule of his own. 
In a letter to his mother from Glasgow on 2nd October, 

1749, he said— 

" Few of my companions surpass me in common knowledge 
but most of them in vice. This is a truth I should blush to 
relate to one that had not all my confidence, lest it be thought 
to proceed either from insolence or vanity ; but I think you 
don't understand it so. I dread their habits and behaviour, 
and am forced to an eternal watch upon myself that I may 
avoid the very manner which T most condemn in them. 
Young men should have some object constantly in their aim, 
some shining character to direct them. 'Tis a disadvantage 
to be first at an imperfect age ; either we become enamoured 
with ourselves, seeing nothing superior, or fall into the degree 
of our associates." 

Lord Bury succeeded to the colonelcy, but as 
months elapsed before he visited the regiment, its 
interests were entirely in Wolfe's charge. In March, 

1750, his hopes were gratified by his appointment as 
lieutenant-colonel. His promotion quickened his 
desire to go abroad in order not to sacrifice all his time 
" in idleness or trifling soldiership." His friend 
Rickson was with Cornwallis in Nova Scotia, and 
Wolfe outlined to him a tour which he would make 
to Metz, along the Rhine to Switzerland, and back 
through France and the Netherlands. His interest in 
Rickson's situation in Nova Scotia was keen. The 
colony, hitherto known as Acadie, belonged to France 
down to the Treaty of Utrecht, and Cornwallis was 
now busy making it British in fact as well as in name. 
Wolfe asked many questions about the place, the 
people, and the government, and spoke enthusiasti- 
cally of the " felicity of our American colonies " 
compared with those of France and Spain. What 
would Wolfe not have given to be with Rickson 
almost within hail of the spot which a few years hence 


was to be the scene of his immortality ? But Wolfe 
was not even to be allowed to go abroad. Leave of 
absence was granted, but it was intimated that he 
must stay in England. One must share his perplexity 
and inability to understand why. 

If Wolfe had been allowed to take a run abroad a period 
he would have been spared an experience which of foll y« 
was a cause of regret to him for months. What 
he resisted successfully in Scotland he succumbed t 
in London, where he arrived on 14th November, 1750, 
to stay with his parents in Old Burlington Street. 
His lapse into the depravity of the age, when it 
was "the vogue of the best society" 1 to drink, 
gamble, swear, and scoff at religion and morality, 
may have been due to reaction after the severity 
of his self-discipline in the north ; it may have 
been due to disgust that he was not permitted 
to turn his holiday to account profitably abroad as 
he believed he could ; it may have been due to the 
veto of his parents on his " senseless passion " for 
Miss Lawson, who, moreover, seems to have endorsed 
their views by rejecting his advances ; or it may have 
been the cumulative effect of all three. Whatever 
the explanation he plunged recklessly into the coarse 
pleasures of London life, to the intense pain of his 
father and mother and his own physical undoing 
He made himself ill, and had barely recovered when 
he rejoined his regiment at Banff in the middle of 
April, 1751. During his four months in London, he 
told Rickson he committed more imprudent acts than 
in all his life before, living an idle, dissolute, 
abandoned life, " and that not out of vice, which is 
the most extraordinary part of it. I have escaped 

1 Wright, p. 161. 
5— (2213) 


at length and am once again master of my reason, and 
hereafter it shall rule my conduct." His letters to 
his father were charged with manly apologies : his 
father had evidently upbraided him sharply. He 
talked of those " seeds of such imperfections in me 
that perhaps only wanted nourishment and proper 
occasion to break forth," and he begged his father not 
to think it troublesome to him to read any paternal 
letter though it should be the mirror of his follies. 
Nova On his return to Banff, Wolfe still showed a lively 

Scotia. interest in Nova Scotian affairs — an interest that has 

a certain piquancy in view of events of which Wolfe 
perhaps never dreamed in his flightiest moment of 
ambition. He wrote to Rickson that he imagined 
certain works would be undertaken " in expectation 
of future wars with France when I foresee great 
attempts to be made in your neighbourhood." Did 
he foresee that the fortress of Louisbourg, which had 
been taken by the New England levies from the 
French in 1744, would have to be taken again before 
the position of the British colonies would be tolerable ? 
He found " the present schemes of economy " 
favoured by the ministry destructive of all patriotic 
enterprise, and was disgusted with Pelham and 
his colleagues that they refused to strengthen the 
garrison of Nova Scotia. But Pelham was afraid 
of taking any step which might afford a new occasion 
of quarrel with " our everlasting and irreconcilable 
adversary " — " a bad prognostic," as Wolfe put 
it. The Acadians made things so impossible for 
the British that it was later deemed necessary 
forcibly to transplant them to other colonies. It 
was a harsh proceeding, but not quite so barbarous 
as the poet's pathetic frenzy would have us believe. 


Wolfe was sorry for the position in which Rickson 
found himself, with no hope of ending the hostility 
of the French by a decisive blow and in constant 
danger from assassination. " These circumstances 
discourage the bravest minds. Brave men when they 
see the least room for conquest, think it easy and 
generally make it so ; but they grow impatient with 
perpetual disadvantages." Could the nerveless 
statesmanship of the period from which Pitt a very 
few years hence with the aid of a few indomitable 
spirits like James Wolfe and Robert Clive, of 
Boscawen and Hawke and Saunders, was to rescue 
the country as if by magic, be illustrated more simply ? 
Wolfe would have made short work of some of the 
troubles of the British in Nova Scotia and by an 
almost dramatic stroke — " prognostic " here at any 
rate — he suggested that the Highlanders, so recently 
at war with England, so soon to add new laurels to 
British arms, would be the people for the unpleasant 
work. " I should imagine that two or three inde- 
pendent Highland companies might be of use ; they 
are hardy, intrepid, accustomed to a rough country, 
and no great mischief if they fall. How can you 
better employ a secret enemy than by making his end 
conducive to the common good ? If this sentiment 
should take wind, what an execrable and bloody 
being should I be considered here in the midst of 
Popery and Jacobitism." 

Wolfe's sentiments concerning his friend's position Inverness 
in Nova Scotia and his own in Scotland if analysed in r 75'« 
would have been found to be curiously similar. 
Though he made some good friends in Scotland, he 
always looked upon himself "as an exile : with 
respect to the inhabitants I am so, for I dislike 'em 


much." So, when in Banff, he told Rickson ; so 
when, in the autumn of 1751, he was transferred to 
Inverness, the very head centre of Jacobitism, he 
told his father : "A little while serves to discover 
the villainous nature of the inhabitants and brutality 
of the people of its neighbourhood. Those, too, who 
pretend the greatest attachment to the Government, 
and who every day feed upon the public purse, seem 
to distinguish themselves for greater rudeness than 
the open and professed Jacobites." Inverness in 
those days was not the sort of place to make less 
querulous a temperament so impatient for larger 
things, which " fretted at trifles and quarrelled with 
Disuse of toothpicks." Wolfe for a time liked nothing in 
Inverness, and he had " the additional mortification " 
that the country round about afforded no relief in the 
shape of hunting and shooting. He wondered how 
long such a place would take to wear out the love of 
arms " in a man moderately inclined that way." He 
derived some satisfaction in surveying the field of 
Culloden " with great exactness," and reporting to 
his father that he found room for " military criticism 
as well as for a little ridicule upon some famous 
transactions of that memorable day. The actors 
shone in the world too high and bright to be eclipsed ; 
but it is plain they don't borrow much of their glory 
from their performance on that occasion, however they 
may have distinguished themselves in later events." 
He did not reflect on the Head but on the lower 
agents. His censure, he said, was made not to exer- 
cise his ill-nature but to " exercise the faculty of 
judging," to learn from the false steps of others what 
to avoid and from " the examples worthiest of 
imitation " what should never be lost sight of. With 


many of the families against whose fathers and sons 
he had fought he was necessarily brought in contact. 
" We have an assembly of female rebels every fort- 
night, entirely composed of Macdonalds, Frazers, and 
M'Intoshes." He danced with the daughter of a 
famous chieftain who fell at Culloden. These " female 
rebels " were " perfectly wild as the hills that breed 
them, but they lay aside their principles for the sake 
of sound and movement." 

In a flash of sardonic humour Wolfe assured his Serious 
mother that " an easy stupidity and insensibility thoughts at 
seems to have crept into me and does the part of 
reason in keeping the vessel steady with prodigious 
success. It is so pleasing a state that I prefer it to 
any conceit that the fancy can produce, any whirl- 
wind of the brain or violent chase after nothing." 
He had reached the end of his twenty-fifth year, and 
in a letter home indulged in some reflections on the 
wearing away of life. Written in the dead of night, 
the note was pessimistic. " It matters little where 
a man passes his days and what station he fills, or 
whether he be great or considerable, but it imports 
him something to look to his manner of life. This 
day I am five and twenty years of age, and all that 
time is as nothing. When I am fifty (if it so happens) 
and look back it will be the same ; and so on to the 
last hour." Life's uncertainty induced the feeling 
that " the little time taken in for meditation is the 
best employed." All seemed vanity. Yet serious 
as his thoughts and good intentions may be on retiring 
to bed, so strangely " mixed and compounded " is 
human nature that "it is likely I may rise with my 
old nature or perhaps with the addition of some new 
impertinence and be the same wandering lump of idle 


errors that I have ever been." " Our natural weak- 
ness " made him fearful of being drawn by the herd 
into " the worst degree of our iniquities." Work 
was salvation : " Most employment and least vice." 
He tried to be patient under " the little inconve- 
niences " to which he was subject, and held in con- 
tempt those who could only be happy in luxury and 
idleness. " There are young men amongst us that 
have great revenues and high military stations, that 
repine at three months' service with their regiments 
if they go fifty miles from home. Soup and venaison 
and turtle are their supreme delight and joy — an 
effeminate race of coxcombs, the future leaders of our 
armies, defenders and protectors of our great and free 
nation ! " He did not strive to avoid the vices 
affected by most army officers of the period merely 
because he feared contamination. Nor did he seek 
from mere impatience alone to get into touch with 
the world outside his shifting but hardly varying 
Scottish society. He had a fear that " the tyrannical 
principles of an absolute commander " " the tempta- 
tions of power " might make him " proud, insolent, 
and intolerable." " By frequenting men above 
myself I may know my true condition and by discours- 
ing with the other sex may learn some civility and 
mi dness of carriage, but never pay the price of the 
last improvement with the loss of reason. Better 
be a savage of some use than a gentle amorous puppy 
obnoxious to all the world. One of the wildest of wild 
clans is a worthier being than a mere philander." 
The effect. " Mere philander " Wolfe could never be. He 
of study k e pt fog studies going and read mathematics until 
he had " grown perfectly stupid," he said, " and 
algebraically worked away the little portion of 


understanding that was allowed to me. They have 
not even left me the qualities of a coxcomb ; for I can 
neither laugh nor sing, nor talk for an hour upon 
nothing." This was " a sensible loss," but he 
consoled himself with the reflection that " a man may 
make a neighbourlike appearance in this cold region 
with a moderate competency of knowledge, and with 
a degree of gravity that may supply the deficiency. 
And whoever goes to kirk (as I do) once a week, and 
there comforts himself with more reverence to the 
priest than consideration for the nature of the business 
— herein I sometimes fail — will most assuredly obtain 
the reputation of great wisdom and discretion." A 
cynical vein is touched by the allowance that he and 
his companions are " the most religious foot officers " 
seen in the north for many a day, whereas in other 
quarters they had been regarded as no better than 
the sons of darkness. 

Wolfe's little disquisitions on morals are a fine 
tribute to the abiding influence of parental example. measure 
Nor were they a verbal cloak for inconsistency of of worth, 
conduct. He was no saint ; he could even be a rebel 
at times, but he always longed to be able to show the 
superiority of action over words. " A number of 
words and sentences ever so well put together cannot 
equal a good action," he wrote from Glasgow in 
July, 1749 ; " it is evident that our words are not 
proof of good conduct," he wrote from Inverness in 
February, 1752, " they don't always express our 
thoughts, but what a man does may be depended 
upon and is the true measure of his worth." With 
his trouble over his love affair, his resentment and 
ultimate surrender, and his standard of the relative 
value of words and action, in mind, many things may 


be read into another passage from this letter of Febru- 
ary, 1752. His parents could not have mistaken its 
fairly plain significance : " We are not enough 
acquainted with ourselves to determine our future 
conduct, ror can any man foresee what shall happen ; 
but as far as one may hazard a conjecture there is a 
great possibility that I shall never marry. I should 
hardly engage in an affair of that nature purely for 
money, nor do I believe that my infatuation will ever 
be strong enough to persuade me that people can live 
without it ; besides, unless there be violence done to 
my inclinations by the power of some gentle nymph. 
I had much rather listen to the drum and trumpet 
than any softer sound whatever." 

The stoic in him finds further expression a month 
later when he says that " perhaps there is a possibility 
of going through the business of the world without 
any strong connection or attachment to anything 
that is in it and with a kind of indifference as to what 
happens." And by way of commentary, unwitting 
or designed, we have this delightfully naive 
confession — 

" I have lately fallen into the acquaintance (by mere 
chance) of two young Scotch ladies, with whose conversation 
I am infinitely delighted, They are birds of a fine feather, 
and very rare in this country. One of them is a wife, ( x ) the 
ther a maid. The former has the strongest understanding, 
the other has the prettiest face ; but as I am not disposed 
to become the slave of either, the matron stands first. I 
mention this circumstance to clear up all doubt that might 
rise from the subject ; and I speak of these ladies to show 
that we should not despair, and that some satisfaction may 
be found even where it is least expected." 

( x ) Wright says there is good reason to conclude that the 
elder lady was Mrs. Forbes, wife of John, only son of the 
famous Lord President, 


Two years had elapsed since Lord Bury's appoint- Lord Bury 
ment as colonel ; he was expected to visit the regi- 
ment in April. His lieutenant-colonel's reflections are 
amusing : " He'll stay six weeks, and then swear 
there's no enduring it any longer, and beg leave to 
return. ' Wolfe, you'll stay in the Highlands ; you 
can't, with any face, ask to quit the regiment so 
dispersed ; and when you have clothed and sent them 
to their different quarters, towards the end of Novem- 
ber you shall come to London, my dear friend, for 
three months.' This will be his discourse, and I must 
say, ' My Lord, you are very kind ! ' " Lord Bury 
proved more kind in one respect than Wolfe antici- 
pated : in another he proved himself less than kind — 
in some ways a worthy successor of the victor of 
Culloden, assuming, that is, any of the stories of the 
Duke of Cumberland to be true. The colonel took a 
sympathetic view of Wolfe's desire to escape from his 
" long confinement," and leave of absence was 
granted in May. But if Lord Bury showed himself 
sensible of Wolfe's claim to consideration, he was 
guilty of an act which went far to undo any good 
that Wolfe's attitude towards the inhabitants might 
have accomplished, for though Wolfe did not like 
them he seems to have treated them as human beings. 
When his Lordship reached Inverness it was proposed 
to entertain him on the Duke of Cumberland's 
birthday as a mark of loyalty to his Royal Highness : 
an idea which it is hard to reconcile with the reputa- 
tion of the Butcher. Lord Bury suggested that it 
would be a better compliment to the Duke to celebrate 
the following day, that of course being the anniversary 
of Culloden. Confronted by a proposal which was 
an outrage to half the locality, the embarrassed 


officials after taking time to consider regretted that 
it was impossible to comply with the suggestion, and 
Lord Bury coerced them by saying that he had told 
his men of the forthcoming celebration, and would 
not answer for the consequences if it did not take 
place. It is a pity we have no letter from Wolfe 
giving his view of a proceeding which was as inane 
as it was cruel. 



Lieut.-Col. Wolfe's nine months in Inverness Leaving 
gave him a sense of cramp, professional and mental, Scotland, 
if not physical. On a bright May morning he set out 
with certain companies of his regiment along the road 
by Loch Ness to Fort Augustus at its south-west 
corner — " a grandly wild " long summer day's march, 
as Wright calls it. Fort Augustus was among the 
strategic points selected after the rising of '15 and 
strengthened after '45. It was one of the radiating 
centres of the military posts established for the 
purpose of disarming and cowing the recalcitrant, 
and policing the Highlands generally. At Fort 
Augustus, Wolfe received his furlough permit, and 
with the eagerness of the schoolboy gathering up his 
belongings for the summer holidays, made arrange- 
ments to get away at once. His plans were to visit 
Ireland, London, and Paris. From Fort Augustus 
he went to Perth, Glasgow, and Portpatrick. During 
his journey he called at many of the out-of-the-way 
military posts and saw a good deal of the method by 
which outlaws were hunted down, and, it is to be 
feared, by which in some cases outlaws were made. 
Whole pages of Scottish history at this period seem 
to be lifted bodily, with names and locale changed, 
out of Ireland's record ; there was the same bitter, 
often bloody, conflict between large sections of 
peasantry and the representatives of the Crown ; and 
the factor on a confiscated Scottish estate carried his 





Ireland in 

life in his hands just as the agents of unpopular 
landlords in Ireland have always done in times of 
agrarian agitation. It is a gloomy picture, though 
one which we know was destined to brighten with 
each succeeding generation. 

Wolfe had much to say from time to time in 
criticism of the common soldier, but he looked upon 
the wearer of the King's uniform as a superior person 
in the class to which he belonged. One day during 
this Scottish journey Wolfe left his servant in charge 
of his horse, and on his return found a grenadier 
holding both his own and the servants' animals. 
Wolfe was very angry. " Sirrah," he said when the 
groom appeared, " what do you mean by thus 
deserting your post and taking up the time of this 
soldier ? Had I employed him, as you have, it would 
have been proper enough, but can you be such a fool 
as to think that a man who has the honour to wear 
the King's uniform and is engaged in the service of 
his country, ought to supply the place of an idle 
servant ? Know that it is your duty and my com- 
mand that you wait upon the soldiers and not the 
soldiers upon you ! " It might be an extract from 
Fielding or Smollett ; the note of over-emphasis is 

Wolfe's uncle, Major Walter, was living in Dublin ; 
the veterans, young and old, looked forward to 
meeting with keen interest, the keener perhaps 
because they differed on many points of military 
economy. Walter Wolfe was of the school which 
thought bull-dog courage of more importance than 
training ; his nephew was certainly not indifferent 
to the claims of the bull-dog, but if he had had to make 
a choice would have favoured discipline before 


reckless devotion. From Portpatrick to Donaghadee 
in a primitive flat-bottomed boat, and through the 
north-eastern counties of Ireland by still more 
primitive and ricketty post-chaise, was an ordeal, 
unaccustomed though the traveller was to anything 
approaching luxury in locomotion. Wolfe was 
charmed with Irish scenery, though his quick eye 
detected plenty of room for improvements particularly 
in planting and the draining of boggy grounds. He 
was told that the best estates were " involved deeply 
in debt, the tenants racked and plundered, and 
consequently industry and good husbandry dis- 
appointed or destroyed." x The Irish problem was 
then becoming, if it had not already become, pretty 
much what it has been throughout the intervening 
century and a half, with the difference that Ireland 
had its Parliament to assist the ventilation of its 
grievances. The Freeman's Journal was hammering 
away at British interference in Irish affairs, and when 
Wolfe was in Dublin its proprietor, Charles Lucas, 
was hiding in England from a warrant out for his 
arrest. 2 Lords-lieutenant themselves were absentees 
for three-fourths of their term, one part of Dublin 
was pretentiously gay on the proceeds of rack rents 
while the other was in a state of squalid wretched- 
ness, 3 and Irish distress was gradually working up to 
a point which was to give the oratory of Flood and 
Grattan its dynamic force. It was an Ireland steeped 

1 Lecky (England in the Eighteenth Century, vol. ii, p. 317) 
seeks to correct the common view that Irish life in the first 
half of the eighteenth century was " altogether corrupt, frivo- 
lous, grotesque and barbarous : among many and glaring 
vices some real public spirit and intellectual energy may be 

2 Lawless : Story of the Nations : Ireland, p. 322. 

3 Lecky : England in the Eighteenth Century, vol. ii, p. 318. 


in ignorance and superstition on the one hand ; poor, 
shabby-genteel, and trying to keep up appearances 
on the other ; the Ireland of whose homes Goldsmith 
said with a fine native touch — 

Some Irish houses where things are so so 

A gammon of bacon hangs up for a show, 

But as to think of eating the thing they take pride in 

They'd as soon think of eating the pan it is fried in. 

The Boyne. As to Wolfe's doings and impressions in Ireland 
we have scanty information. He took the oppor- 
tunity of visiting the scene of the battle of the Boyne ; 
his reflections would not be confined to the military 
side ; he stood upon the historic ground where 
" Dutch William " had scared the pusillanimous 
James II to flight and asylum in France ; and he had 
only a few weeks before left the neighbourhood of 
Culloden where he had taken part in what would 
probably be the last effort of the Stuarts to recover 
the throne James had forfeited. If James had 
possessed the personality, the chivalry, and the pluck 
of his grandson, Ireland might have preserved what 
Scotland was unable to restore, and if there had been 
no Hanoverian succession how different would have 
been British history, how different Wolfe's own life. 
Sight of the monument erected to the memory of 
Schomberg gave Wolfe more satisfaction than " all 
the variety" of other spots he had visited, "and 
perhaps there is not another piece of ground in the 
world that I could take so much pleasure to observe." 
After a week in Dublin, which appeared to him to be 
" a prodigious city : x the streets crowded with 

1 Lecky says, " In the middle of the eighteenth century 
Dublin was in dimensions and population the second city in 
the Empire." 


people of a large size and well limbed, and the women 
very handsome," he went south, then crossed to 
Bristol, spent some time in the West of England, and 
arrived at Blackheath about the time that England 
brought her calendar into conformity with the 
Gregorian. Wolfe probably reached home only to 
lose eleven days of reckoning, for those who went to 
bed on the night of Wednesday, 2nd September, 
1752, did not get up till the morning of the 14th, 
" and found themselves no more refreshed than after 
an ordinary night's rest." 1 

Wolfe's anxiety was now to know whether he was Wolfe in 
to be allowed to go abroad. He had thrown out Paris « 
hints more than once that if there were no chance of 
active service at home he would join a foreign army 
where further enlightenment would be possible. 
However, his anxiety was soon relieved. Permission 
came and he set out for Paris early in October ; Lord 
Bury's father, the Earl of Albemarle, was then British 
Minister in France, and to him Wolfe carried an 
introduction from the colonel himself. It had its 
advantages of course, though Wolfe soon found that 
this rather remarkable specimen of an ambassador, 
who frequently, according to Horace Walpole, did 
not grace his own banquet table when guests were 
present, was not of all the service that might have 
been expected. It was at a peculiarly tense moment 
in the history of France that Wolfe set foot in Paris. 
Forces were gathering that were to have immediate 
effect on French fortunes at home and abroad, and 
forty years later were to sweep the Bourbons from 
the throne. Louis XV was King, but Madame de 

1 Wright, p. 231. 


Pompadour was ruler ; her influence in the councils 
of State was supreme ; 1 she wielded the imperial 
sceptre in return for the amusement of the monarch. 
" She gained and long kept the power that she 
coveted ; filled the Bastille with her enemies ; made 
and unmade ministers ; appointed and removed 
generals. Great questions of policy were at the 
mercy of her caprices. Through her frivolous vanity, 
her personal likes and dislikes, all the great depart- 
ments of Government — army, navy, war, foreign 
affairs, justice, finance — changed from hand to hand 
incessantly, and this at a time of crisis when the 
kingdom needed the steadiest and surest guidance." 2 
Only one person near the throne dared to show his 
disgust that Madame de Pompadour should be 
allowed to stand not only between King and Queen, 
but between the King and his duty to the nation. 
That person was the Dauphin, and for his indepen- 
dence he was humiliated before the whole Court. Wolfe 
had not been long in Paris before, apparently at the 
play, he came near Madame ; he described her as 
" a very agreeable woman." In January he was pre- 
sented with others to the King and the Royal Family, 
and to Madame de Pompadour. She entertained 
them at her toilette, it being her habit to receive 
visitors in her dressing-room. " We found her curling 
her hair. She is extremely handsome, and by her 
conversation with the ambassador and others that 
were present, I judge she must have a great deal of 
wit and understanding." That meeting stirs one's 
imagination. To Madame de Pompadour, history 

1 Waddington : La Guerre de Sept Ans, vol. ii, p. 193. 

2 Parkman : Montcalm and Wolfe, vol. i, p. 17, Ed. 


traces many of the disasters of France in the third 
quarter of the eighteenth century ; to gratify her 
European vanities, New France suffered ; and a prin- 
cipal instrument in the undoing of French empire 
beyond the Atlantic was to be the tall, bright-eyed, 
and not too healthy-looking young English officer 
who now deemed it a privilege to observe the mighty 
dame curl her hair. History has its humours as well 
as its romance ! 

Paris must have been a hot-bed of temptation in How he 
that winter of 1752-3 to our young lieutenant-colonel s p en t his 
fresh from the almost Spartan severity of Inverness. ime * 
He had not gone to France, however, to frivol away 
his time in social dissipation. Up every morning not 
later than seven, he worked till twelve, then dressed 
and visited, dined at two, attended some entertain- 
ment about five, and went to bed at eleven. " This 
way of living is directly opposite to the practice of 
the place ; but I find it impossible to pursue the 
business I came upon and to comply with the customs 
and manners of the inhabitants." The business he 
came upon was to study foreign armies at first hand, 
to see something of polite society abroad, and to learn 
to speak French, to dance and to fence. Among the 
friends he either found or made in Paris were Philip 
Stanhope, Lord Chesterfield's son, who was an attache 
at the Embassy, the young Duke of Richmond, and 
Guy Carleton, the man who was one day successfully 
to defend against the Americans the city on the 
St. Lawrence which Wolfe was to take from France 
in the interests of America. The Duke of Richmond 
wanted a military tutor ; Wolfe was consulted, 
possibly with the idea that he might offer himself for 
the post ; he recommended his friend Carleton. His 

6— (221 ? ) 


parents thought he should have put himself forward. x 
Wolfe's answer was that he did not always prefer his 
own interest to that of his friends, that apart from his 
liking for Carleton he did not feel equal to the task 
— assuredly it would not have been acceptable to 
one so eager to learn, to be called upon to teach — 
and that "as for the pension that might follow it is 
very certain it would not become me to accept it. 
I can't take money from any one but the King, my 
master, or from some of his blood." Wolfe wanted 
money but not at the expense of his pride. His 
correspondence while in Paris brought him news of 
Miss Lawson. He admitted that he had not yet 
recovered from the " disorder " into which he was 
thrown by his great love for her. He could not hear 
her name mentioned without " twitching." " My 
amour has not been without its use. It has defended 
me against other women, introduced a great deal of 
philosophy and tranquillity as to all objects of our 
strongest affection, and something softened the 
disposition to severity and rigour that I had con- 
tracted in the camp, trained up as I was, from infancy 
to the conclusion of the Peace, in war and tumult." 
He told his mother he should probably never marry, 
but in a letter to his father from Paris he suggests that 
he rather dreads the possibility of a life of single 
blessedness. He reflects that " with us soldiers " 
marriage must be late for various reasons, among them 
prudence. " We are not able to feed our wives and 
children till we begin to decline. It must be a solitary 

1 Mr. Bradley {Wolfe, p. 71) says Wolfe " was offered the 
position of governor to the young Duke of Richmond, but 
refused it." This is clearly a mistake, as we may see from 
Wolfe's letter to hjs mother given by Wright, pp. 252-3. 


kind of latter life to leave no relations nor objects to 
take up our thoughts and affections — to be as it were 
alone in the world without any connection with 
mankind but the tie of common friendships which 
are at best as you have experienced but loose and 

Wolfe had been in Paris four months when it a disap- 
seemed that at last the purpose of which he had often pointment. 
talked in Scotland and for which in large measure 
he had left England, was to be attained. Lord 
Albemarle told him that the French King would 
encamp a great part of his army in the summer, and 
proposed, to Wolfe's infinite satisfaction, that the 
Duke should command him to attend as a represen- 
tative of the British army. " The French are to have 
three or four different camps ; the Austrians and 
Prussians will probably assemble some corps, so that 
I may before the summer have seen half the armies 
in Europe at least." The Duke's response was a 
command which, though half anticipated, was none 
the less keenly disappointing. It was that Wolfe 
should return to his regiment at once. Wolfe was 
inclined to rebel, and was sarcastic at the expense of 
" a major and an adjutant (if the colonel is to be 
indulged himself) " who were " not to be considered 
equal to the great task of exercising in our frivolous 
fashion a battalion or two of soldiers." Fears — if 
they existed — that Wolfe might, by too close contact 
with foreign armies, be induced to abandon his own 
were not the only cause of this sudden recall : the 
Major of the 20th had been incapacitated by a fit 
of apoplexy, and as Lord Bury, its colonel, was 
not prepared to sacrifice himself for the sake of the 
regiment, Wolfe's presence in Scotland was essential, 


Return to Disgusted and disappointed, Wolfe had to return. 

Glasgow. He took Blackheath for a few days on his way, and 
then started on a journey north which cost him much 
discomfort — discomfort of the body which vexation 
of spirit aggravated. A new sort of close post-chaise 
had been put on the roads about this time, 
" machines," said Wolfe, " purposely constructed to 
torture the unhappy carcases that are placed in 
them." He had recourse to post-horses, and fared 
little better, having two spills at the hazard of his 
neck. His troubles did not end with his arrival in 
Glasgow. The regiment was in melancholy circum- 
stances ; officers " ruined, desperate and without 
hopes of preferment," the major dead, one ensign 
had been in convulsions, and another was seized with 
palsy, and Wolfe was so affected by the prevailing 
distress that he nearly fainted. To what all these 
things were due we are not told, but they were 
enough in all conscience, apart from his dislike of 
Scotland, to make Wolfe look forward to August, 
when the regiment was to march out of " this dark 
and dismal country." Three weeks later he wrote, 
" We are all sick, officers and soldiers : I am amongst 
the best and not quite well." The weather was in 
large measure responsible, and Wolfe attributed his 
immunity to the " store of health " amassed in 
France, which he hoped would last out his stay in 
Scotland, " though the consumption will be very 
considerable." Gloomy as his reports were, there was 
diversion in the granite city in the shape of plays, 
concerts, balls, dinners and suppers. The food, he 
said, was execrable, and the wines " approached to 
poison." The men drank excessively, and the ladies 
were cold to everything but a bagpipe — " I wrong 


them ; there is not one that does not melt away at 
the sound of an estate ; there's the weak side of this 
soft sex." He dined one day with the Duchess of 
Hamilton, the famous Elizabeth Gunning, who had 
been married rather more than a year and lived within 
ten miles of Glasgow. A little grumble at the condi- 
tion of things in the army that made " the doing of 
one's duty well, and not talking of it, the roundabout 
way to preferment " ; a complaint that he had 
" hardly passion enough of any kind to find present 
pleasure or feed future hope " ; an apology to his 
mother for an exhibition of ill-temper and a plea that 
if she thought he had any good qualities they might 
be set in opposition to the bad ones ; and we come to 
September 9th, 1753. On that date Wolfe with his 
regiment left Scotland for the south. 

When he crossed the Esk he saluted the soil of A long 
England with almost effusive gladness, and the whole marcn - 
regiment had a feeling that it was going home from 
some foreign land. Wolfe at once perceived a 
welcome change in many respects. "The English are 
clean and laborious, and the Scotch excessively dirty 
and lazy, though far short indeed of what we found 
at a greater distance from the borders." The men's 
health improved with the march ; they were so active 
that they wore their clothes threadbare, and Wolfe 
believed that by the time they arrived at Warwick 
" they would be the most dirty, ragged regiment that 
the Duke has seen for years." Though every day he 
moved further south the country appeared richer and 
more delightful — and he found the Lancashire women 
surprisingly handsome after " the hard-favoured 
Scotch lasses " — he grew heartily sick of the slow 
movement of the march. It was not agreeable to his 


" disposition of mind." At Warwick he had some 
hunting, and he enjoyed the " extremely beautiful 
country." The regiment moved on to Reading with 
Dover as its objective. At Reading he once more 
complained of the state of morals among both officers 
and men : " If I stay much longer with the regiment 
I shall be perfectly corrupt ; the officers are loose 
and profligate, and soldiers are very devils." Healthy 
as he had described the men to be at Warrington in 
September, at Reading in November he said they 
were subject to exercises which were too much for 
their constitutions. " Our debaucheries enervate 
and unman us." Wolfe's own standard of conduct 
was so high that it would be natural for him to 
exaggerate shortcomings in others, and his views 
always tended to extremes ; but there can be little 
question as to the reasonableness of his strictures. 
Contemporary records bear him out. If Wolfe could 
say so much of his own men what was his opinion of 
others ? The 20th, it was conceded, was the best 
disciplined regiment in the British army, 1 and one 
would fain believe that Wolfe's sharp condemnation 
meant no more than that his officers and men fell far 
short of his ideal — an impossible one in the 
circumstances of the time. 

1 Bradley : Wolfe, p. 83. 



England has never passed through a more uncertain Irregular 
and inglorious time than in the eight years between warfare, 
the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle and the 
beginning of the Seven Years' War. She lacked 
leaders, and a corrupt system strangled the efforts 
of individual patriots. Fortunately for her, venality 
abroad left her great opponent unable to seize oppor- 
tunities which party prejudices and personal pique 
supplied in ample measure. It was a period of 
pretence in Europe ; of irregular and scarcely inter- 
mittent warfare beyond the seas. The Treaty of 
1748 involved suspension of hostilities between the 
great powers : in India and in America the conflict 
between French and English was abandoned in one 
place only to break out in another. In the East the 
French intrigued and fought for their own hand by 
fighting for one or other of the native princes or 
pretenders : the English did the same. It was a fore- 
gone conclusion that if the French took one side in 
a local quarrel the English took the other. Across the 
Atlantic the conditions varied only with the character 
of the country and of the people. In the East the 
struggle was to command political influence and trade 
privileges by alliance with or control of the natives ; 
in the West to build up empire, to promote commerce, 
and to establish strong offshoots of the motherland by 
settlement, by exploration, by alliance with Iroquois 
and Huron, and by the appropriation of forest and 



river and vast expanses of territory whose very limits 
were unknown. In India it was a duel between 
Dupleix and Give ; in America between New France 
and New England. 
Anglo- From the time that John Smith founded James- 

rivalry, town in 1607 and Champlain Quebec in 1608, England 

and France had been in competition for the riches of 
North America, but their methods differed essentially. 
English settlements had been planted down the coast 
for hundreds of miles, and agriculture and trade were 
their principal objects. The French, with a view 
partly to the empire of the West, partly to the 
monopoly of the fur trade, had taken possession of 
the St. Lawrence, and so much of the great river-and- 
lake system north, south, and west as bands of 
intrepid explorers succeeded in traversing. La Salle's 
voyage from the St. Lawrence to the Mississippi and 
the Gulf of Mexico led to the claim of France to the 
whole of America west of the Alleghanies and to the 
erection of a chain of forts which were intended to 
confine the English to the coast strip from Canada 
to Louisiana. In pursuance of this great ambition 
the French were active on the Ohio during 1753. 
Washington — then twenty-one years of age — was 
chosen by Governor Dinwiddie to carry his message 
of protest to the aggressors, and the following year 
it was intended to build a fort at the junction of the 
Alleghany and Monongahela rivers, where Pittsburg 
stands to-day. Whilst the building was in progress 
the French appeared, demolished the works, and put 
up Fort Duquesne in their place. Washington was 
on his way with a force intended to garrison the new 
fort when news reached him that the French were 
in possession. His expedition ended in disaster. 



Things were now almost desperate. The French 
were masters, many of the Indian tribes drew their 
scalping-knives on behalf of the winning side, and 
not an English flag waved beyond the Alleghanies. x 
Braddock was sent out in 1755 with a considerable 
force, to which Wolfe's regiment contributed one 
hundred men ; a person worse fitted for the task in 
hand, says Parkman, could scarcely have been 
found : 2 the French were to be attacked at four points 
at once, and Braddock was to lead the attack on Fort 
Duquesne. An officer of the old school, he was " a 
bigot to military rules," and his inability to adapt 
himself to unaccustomed conditions cost the empire 
and the colonies dear. In the year of his defeat, 
Admirals Boscawen, Hawke, and others were engaged 
in endeavouring to prevent French reinforcements 
from crossing the Atlantic. Yet there was no declara- 
tion of war. It was in the middle of 1755 that Wolfe 
declared " all notions of peace are now at an end." 
He pointed to " the embargo laid upon shipping, the 
violent press for seamen, and the putting soldiers on 
board our fleet " as evidence that the maritime 
strength of the enemy was "by no means contemp- 
tible." Vigorous assaults were expected both in 
Europe and in America. During the last year or two 
it seemed as though France and England had decided 
to give themselves breathing time whilst allowing 
their children over-seas to keep the quarrel going 
and furtively supporting, if not openly encouraging 
them, to fight. France gave what seemed like 
tangible proof of peaceful aims when she recalled 
Dupleix in 1754, especially as Dupleix had done 

1 Parkman : Montcalm and Wolfe, vol. i, pp. 132-167. 
1 Conspiracy of Pontiac, vol. i, p. 110 


nothing more than serve her almost as brilliantly 
as Clive was serving England. Dupleix was a knight 
sacrificed on the Imperial chess-board. The real 
spirit of the time is seen in the orders issued 
from Paris to the Governor of Canada that he was 
to invite the Red Man to destroy English trading 
stations, but on no account was his complicity to 
be discovered, because the two nations were not at 
war ! 1 
War It was not till May, 1756, that war was formally 

declared. declared. By that time England, to secure her own 
safety, had imported a large number of Hessians, 
and in order to protect the interests of Hanover, had 
entered into alliance with Prussia. George II con- 
sidered — or pretended to consider — that Maria Theresa 
had not kept faith with him, and she, hating Frederick 
more than ever now that her old supporter had joined 
hands with him, turned to France — in other words, to 
Madame de Pompadour, who on her part hated 
Frederick because he had made her the butt of his 
sarcasm. A woman of high moral character herself, 
Maria Theresa addressed the Pompadour as her " dear 
cousin," and the flattery of the mistress secured the 
adhesion of Louis XV and his ministers. The task 
was the easier because Louis XV had also changed 
his view ; he now favoured an alliance with Austria. 2 
The year was a bad one for England. Admiral 
Byng ignominiously failed to relieve Minorca ; the 
whole country was horrified by the news of the Black 
Hole of Calcutta, and Montcalm, the brilliant soldier 
against whom Wolfe was to be matched at Quebec, 

1 G. Le M. Bretton : Social England, vol. v. Parkman : 
Montcalm and Wolfe, vol. i, p. 190. 

8 Hassall: Balance of Power, 1715-1789, p. 249. 


captured Fort Oswego. Shame, horror, and indig- 
nation took possession of the public as reverse after 
reverse became known, and with a weak ministry at 
home little or nothing was done. Pitt had offended 
both the King and Newcastle by his fearless resump- 
tion of freelance criticism, and was not in the Govern- 
ment. He became Secretary of State under the Duke 
of Devonshire in December, but the ministry did not 
last long ; there was an interval during which the 
country, at war, was without a ministry. In the 
interests of the commonwealth, Newcastle and Pitt 
had to compose their differences, and it was not till 
Newcastle in June, 1757, agreed to become the figure- 
head of a Government in which Pitt supplied the 
brains, the character, the controlling force that 
the British star once more began to rise, slowly, 
occasionally clouded, but surely, until it shone 
all-unchallenged in the very meridian. 

During the years when England was labouring Wolfe's 
under the dead weight of incompetence alike in the movements 
Council Chamber and the services, Wolfe was watch- 
ing events from various stations in the South of 
England. His letters to his mother and father 
continue to reflect at once his own striking individual- 
ity and the local conditions as they were affected by 
the movements of the world at large. We will run 
through them as rapidly as may be. Dover Castle 
did not please him : it was not as snug as he would 
have liked, and he could not help wishing that the 
moderns who destroyed some of its " antiquity " had 
demolished it altogether. Before he left it he had 
come to consider it as " a vile dungeon," " a melan- 
choly, dreadful winter station." The castle was 
haunted, of course, but the presence of the 



Among the 



supernatural does not seem to have affected him 
much, whilst the tediousness of the time not devoted 
to routine duties affected him a good deal. He rode 
on the downs and did some shooting, bagging an 
occasional pheasant or partridge, which he dare not 
send home, "as we are not authorised by law to kill 
them, and as they examine strictly upon the great 
roads I should be unwilling to be reputed a smuggler." 
Dover Castle, he says, " would be a prison to a man 
of pleasure, but an officer may put up with it." The 
ladies of Dover complained through his mother that 
Wolfe's officers were lacking in gallantry. He replied 
in a spirit of banter that dancing and all its light train 
of amusements had their risks, and to those whose 
years were creeping on might appear vain or 

" Notwithstanding this, I always encourage our young 
people to frequent balls and assemblies. It softens their 
manners and makes them civil ; and commonly I go along 
with them, to see how they conduct themselves. I am only 
afraid they shall fall in love and marry. Whenever I perceive 
the symptoms, or anybody else makes the discovery, we fall 
upon the delinquent without mercy till he grows out of 
conceit with his new passion. By this method we have 
broke through many an amorous alliance, and dissolved many 
ties of eternal love and affection. My experience in these 
matters help me to find out my neighbour's weakness, and 
furnishes me with arms to oppose his folly. I am not, how- 
ever, always so successful as could be wished. Two or three 
of the most simple and insensible in other respects have 
triumphed over my endeavours, but are seated upon the stool 
of repentance for the rest of their days." 

In February, 1754, he had some idea that his 
regiment might be selected for East Indian service. 
But as Lord Bury was exempted from such service by 
his position as aide-de-camp to the King, " I do not 
suppose he would think it consistent to let his 


regiment embark without him. So we are reserved for 
more brilliant service." 1 At the end of March the 
regiment left Dover to be reviewed at Guildford by 
the colonel, and Wolfe got leave of absence, part of 
which he spent with Sir John Mordaunt, the uncle of 
Miss Lawson. The sight of her picture upon the 
dining-room walls upset him for a day or two, " but 
time, the never-failing aid to distressed lovers, has 
made the semblance of her a pleasing but not a 
dangerous object. However, I find it best not to trust 
myself to the lady's eyes, or put confidence in any 
resolutions of my own." 2 When he returned to his 
regiment early in October, it had gone into winter 
quarters at Exeter, and almost his first business was 
to provide the contingent for Braddock's " Ohio 
party." It was fortunate Wolfe did not join the 
party himself. 

In Exeter he was in the heart of a Jacobite com- The 
munity. " I begin to flatter myself that we shall Devonshire 
soften the rigorous proceedings of our adversaries 
here and live with them on better terms than hitherto. 
It is not our interest to quarrel with any but the 
French." Among the means he took to " soften the 
rigorous " was the dance. " Would you believe it 
that no Devonshire squire dances more than I do ? 
What no consideration of pleasure or complaisance 
for the sex could effect the love of peace and harmony 
has brought about. I have danced the officers into 
the good graces of the Jacobite women hereabouts, 
who were prejudiced against them. It falls hard 
upon me because of my indolence and indifference 

1 Beckles Willson : Nineteenth Century, Sept., 1908. 
1 Wright mentions that Miss Lawson, who meant so much 
to Wolfe, died unmarried in March, 1759. 


about it." All the same it is on record that he showed 
much " talent in the science " and that he was gener- 
ally " ambitious to gain a tall graceful woman to be 
his partner, as well as a good dancer." The sort of 
barrier he had to break down is shown by the fact 
that at a ball to celebrate the King's birthday every 
man save one was wearing the King's uniform. 
" The female branches of the Tory families came 
readily enough, but not one man would accept the 
invitation. If it had not fallen my way to see such 
an instance of folly I should not readily be brought 
to conceive it." Wolfe found himself " hand and 
glove with the Right Worshipful the Mayor " and 
reported that " the people seem tolerably well disposed 
towards us at present " — a condition of things which 
he hoped would last his time, " for, as the town 
has nothing in it either inviting or entertaining, 
the circumstances of a civil war would make it 
intolerable." Wolfe's diversions, it is interesting to 
note, did not include cards. He had no grave objec- 
tion to them, especially in people of a certain age, 
but he thought that young folks might be led into 
excesses and sacrifice the hours which should be given 
to improvement. In the beginning of January, 1755, 
he had to attend a court-martial in Bristol — a duty he 
always disliked. 
Premom- From Bristol he wrote home : " Folks are surprised 

to see the meagre, consumptive, decaying figure of the 
son, when the father and mother preserve such good 
looks. The campaigns of 1743, '4, '5, '6, and 7 
stripped me of my bloom and the winters in Scotland 
and at Dover have brought me almost to old age and 
infirmity, and this without any remarkable intem- 
perance. A few years more or less are of very little 


consequence to the common run of men, and therefore 
I need not lament that I am perhaps somewhat nearer 
my end than others of my time. I think and write 
upon these points without being at all moved." 
Wolfe's trouble, his health apart, was always about 
funds, and he loathed the necessity of calling upon his 
father's ever-ready purse. " I am eight-and-twenty 
years of age, a lieutenant-colonel of Foot, and I cannot 
say that I am master of fifty pounds." The only 
ground on which, when hard pressed, he felt justified 
in turning to the parental exchequer was that to be 
cramped and tied down by circumstances when his 
thoughts should be free and at large took his attention 
off the most important parts of his duty. " That 
spirit will guide others but indifferently which bends 
under its own wants." He longed for advancement 
with a longing which in a less brilliant man would 
have been wholly unreasonable. His ambition was 
encouraged by his friend, Sir John Mordaunt, by his 
uncle, and by his father. His uncle wished him to 
make a considerable figure in the profession, and he 
was prepared to serve even at sea if he could only get 
the chance, great though he knew his agony from 
sickness would be. With the prospect of war in his 
mind throughout the year 1755, he sometimes 
thought he might be sent to Virginia, sometimes that 
he might be called upon to go to Holland. " It is no 
time to think of what is convenient or agreeable," he 
wrote in February, " that service is the best in which 
we are the most useful. For my part I am determined 
never to give myself a moment's concern about the 
nature of the duty His Majesty is pleased to order us 
upon. It will be sufficient comfort to you two, as far as 
my person is concerned at least it will be a reasonable 


consolation, to reflect that the Power which has 
hitherto preserved me may, if it be His pleasure, 
continue to do so ; if not, that it is but a few days or a 
few years more or less and that those who perish in 
their duty, and in the service of their country die 
honourably. I hope I shall have resolution and 
firmness enough to meet every appearance of danger 
without great concern and not be over-solicitous about 
the event." In all his letters Wolfe seemed to have 
a premonition that his life was to be a short one. 
When he wrote those words he was, as he said a week 
or ten days before, twenty-eight, and he had four 
and a half years to live. 
New From March, 1755, to March, 1757, Wolfe was 

colonels. shifted from Exeter to Winchester, Southampton, 
Canterbury, Devizes, Stroud, Cirencester and other 
places. It is not necessary to follow his marchings 
and counter-marchings in detail. In 1755 he suffered 
a serious disappointment. His colonel became Earl 
of Albemarle by the death of his father at the end of 
the previous year, and Wolfe was on tenter-hooks to 
learn whether he was to succeed to the official com- 
mand of the regiment which in fact he had com- 
manded for so long. Three months of expectancy, 
and he was informed that Colonel Honeywood had 
been appointed. Wolfe was hurt, and declared he 
would not serve one moment longer than honour 
demanded even if he should starve. He got over his 
vexation sooner than might be expected, and assured 
his mother that " if you arm yourself with philosophy 
you are mistress of all events." War might come to 
his aid, but he dreaded the distress war might mean 
to the country generally and to his mother in partic- 
ular. Whatever happened he was solicitous for his 


mother's comfort, and when it was proposed that 
his father might resign his colonelcy in his favour, 
the son settling an annuity upon him, he refused on 
the ground that " a soldier's life in war is too great 
an uncertainty for you to hazard a necessary part of 
your income upon." If war did not come then Wolfe 
would " jog on in the easiest position in the army, and 
sleep and grow fat." A good deal more philosophy 
was required a year later when Honeywood was 
transferred and his place was taken by Colonel William 

Events, however, gave Wolfe plenty to think about Hints to 
besides his own personal fortunes. He speculated Rickson. 
incessantly on the needs of the country, and in a 
remarkable letter to Rickson, who was now in Scot- 
land, written in view of the possibility that the French 
would again find allies among the Highlanders, he 
outlined the plan — it was sufficiently drastic — by 
which he would deal with the first outbreak in order 
to avoid " a succession of errors and a train of ill- 
behaviour," which made " the last Scotch war," he 
said, difficult to match in history. He recommended 
Rickson to practice musketry firing with balls : 
" Firing balls at objects teaches the soldiers to level 
incomparably, makes the recruits steady, and 
removes the foolish apprehension that seizes young 
soldiers when they first load their arms with bullets. 
We fire first singly, then by files, one, two, three or 
more, then by ranks, and lastly by platoons ; and the 
soldiers see the effects of their shots, especially at a 
mark or upon water. We shoot obliquely and in 
different situations on ground, from heights down- 
wards and contrariwise." Wolfe apologised for 
suggesting so much on the ground that possibly it 

7— (2213) 



might not have been thought of by Rickson's com- 
mander — a casual remark which goes some way to 
explain wherein Wolfe himself was ahead of his 
Army It may sound invidious, but it is not unreasonable 

officers to say that if Braddock had been as ready as Wolfe 

would have been to adapt himself to the military 
conditions which confronted him on his advance to 
Fort Duquesne, the disgrace of that 9th of July, 1755, 
in the wooded defiles beyond the Monongahela would 
have been avoided. Wolfe would not have rejected 
the representations of Washington nor flouted the 
Indian chiefs who placed their unrivalled knowledge 
of forest warfare at his disposal. Braddock, with all 
his courage, his strength of character, his unques- 
tioned ability and patriotism, was simply incapable 
of rising superior to the teachings of the school in 
which he had learnt his business. He ought never 
to have fallen into the ambush laid for him : and 
when he was in it he destroyed a slender chance of 
escape by treating men who endeavoured to save 
themselves without running away, as so many 
cowardly curs. It was the tragedy of cast-iron 
system. When the news reached England in August 
Wolfe was not in a position to deliver serious judg- 
ment. From the accounts to hand, he said : " I do 
believe that the cowardice and ill-behaviour of the 
men far exceeded the ignorance of the chief, who, 
though not a master of the difficult art of war, was 
yet a man of sense and courage. I have but a very 
mean opinion of the Infantry in general. I know 
their discipline to be bad and their valour precarious. 
They are easily put into disorder and hard to recover 
out of it. They frequently kill their officers through 


fear and murder one another in their confusion." 
In that view Wolfe was not quite judicial. The fault 
lay not with the men but with the masters, the 
Government and the officers, to whom they should 
look for guidance. A foreign critic of the time said 
that the British troops were " an army of lions led 
by asses " ; that there were lions among the asses 
and curs among the lions does not rob the description 
of its brute force, and Wolfe himself qualified his 
angry outburst by admitting that the method of 
training and instructing British troops was " ex- 
tremely defective. We are lazy in time of peace and 
of course want vigilance and activity in war. Our 
military education is by far the worst in Europe, and 
all our concerns are treated with contempt or totally 
neglected. It will cost us very dear some time 
hence." In a passage full of significance, he wrote 
to his mother in October, 1755, at a time when the 
French were busy with their fleet and every hour 
brought new fears of invasion, though war had not 
yet been declared : " The officers of the army in 
general are persons of so little application to business 
and have been so ill educated that it must not surprise 
you to hear that a man of common industry is in 
reputation amongst them. I reckon it a very great 
misfortune to this country that I, your son, who have 
I know but a very moderate capacity and some degree 
of diligence a little above the ordinary run, should 
be thought, as I am, one of the best officers of my 
rank in the service. I am not at all vain of the 
distinction." Such a comparison he thought would 
do even a man of genius very little honour. " The 
consequence will be very fatal to me in the end for 
as I rise in rank people will expect some considerable 


performances, and I shall be induced, in support of 
an ill-got reputation, to be lavish of my life and shall 
probably meet that fate which is the ordinary effect 
of such conduct." A prophetic instinct surely ! 
Our Despite his criticisms Wolfe believed the army 

mighty would give an excellent account of itself if the French 

avy * should succeed in what every one believed to be their 

designs. Was he putting his trust in the Hessians, 
whose presence was the sharpest of all reflections on 
the state of the army ? Wolfe had confidence in the 
fleet which was more formidable than any England 
had ever had, and he took a run to Portsmouth 
specially " to enjoy the dreadful though pleasing sight 
of our mighty navy." He was among the first to 
recognise what the sea meant to England's safety, 
and there was in him none of that petty jealousy 
which too long made the navy the rival rather than 
the sister service. Admiral Smith was so posted, said 
Wolfe in December, as to make any attempt on the 
part of the French to land " a little dangerous," and 
he regretted that they did not " discover the same 
degree of respect for us " — that is, for the army. 
" They wish for nothing so much as to be quietly 
ashore and then to make trial of our force," but we 
have " some incomparable battalions, the like of which 
cannot, I'll venture to say, be found in any army." 
Which, one wonders, were the incomparable batta- 
lions ? Wolfe's general criticisms were so severe 
that an incomparable battalion in his eyes must have 
been a very fine body indeed. 
1756. No relief to the tension came with the new year. A 

Admiral supine ministry shared Wolfe's gloomier views as to 
yng " the army, but did nothing during all these months to 

improve its morale and fighting capacity. Recruiting 


went on with some vigour, but the raw material 
was not worked up with the energy demanded by the 
critical character of the situation. Troops were 
moved from place to place, and the Guards were sent 
to Dover much against their inclination, judging 
from some remarks which Wolfe made. " Would 
you believe that there are many who call themselves 
soldiers, who, to excuse their shameful idleness, cry 
out that they believe there will be no war — no invasion 
— and so act as if they were persuaded of the truth of 
it ? " Dread of invasion made the Government 1 
unwilling to move sufficiently early or in sufficient 
strength to save Minorca. Instructions that Byng's 
force should be supplemented from the Gibraltar 
garrison were disobeyed because an attack by the 
Spaniards was feared. Byng gave battle to La 
Galissoniere off Port Mahon, but instead of pressing 
home the advantage he gained, he retired to Gibraltar. 
The Minorca garrison was doomed, and Blakeney, its 
brave general, surrendered with the honours of war. 
Byng was denounced as a traitor : he was really an 
ordinary individual, who could not rise superior to the 
official atmosphere, and Wolfe summed the matter up 
in a simple question : " Are the measures taken for 
the relief of Minorca or the proceedings of our admiral 
to be most admired ? " " The project of succouring 
Minorca and the execution of the great design," he 
wrote to his father, June 27th, 1756, " went hand 
in hand successfully and may probably end in 
a disgraceful peace. You are happy in your infir- 
mity for 'tis a disgrace to act in these dishonourable 
times." • 

1 The Newcastle Papers (Add. MSS. British Museum) are 
full of warnings sent over by the Government's secret agents. 


Wolfe's Wolfe grew so impatient under the ordeal of 

tion Sna " national humiliation that whilst writing " the King 
of Prussia (God bless him !) is our only ally," he added 
fiercely," I am sorry that they don't all unite against 
us that our strength might be fully exerted and our 
force known. I myself believe that we are a match 
for the combined fleets of Europe, especially if our 
admirals and generals were all of the same spirit." 
Against Byng he was as bitter as the ministers who 
sheltered themselves behind the obloquy which over- 
whelmed their servants. Wolfe, " an eye-witness of 
the consequences of his fatal conduct," condemned 
him on every ground : " If he did not personally 
engage through fear or declined it through treachery ; 
or if he went out with instructions not to be too 
forward in relieving Minorca, he deserves ten thousand 
deaths. An English admiral who accepts such 
instructions should lose his head, but, alas ! our 
affairs are falling down apace." He saw the country 
going fast upon its ruin as the result of " paltry 
projects " and the more ridiculous behaviour of those 
who were entrusted with its government. Wolfe's 
suggestion that the ministry by their instructions 
might have induced slackness on the part of the 
admiral was not justified. The suggestion reflects 
the state to which the minds of men had been reduced 
by invertebrate administration. The demoralisation 
was epidemic and few escaped. Courts-martial were 
held to condemn the past when every nerve and every 
muscle was wanted to assist the present. Byng was 
shot, " pour encourager les mitres," as Voltaire said, 
and the King, who refused to give him the benefit of 
mercy recommended by the court, inflicted no 
punishment on the ministers who would have reaped 


the glory if he had triumphed. The Governor of 
Gibraltar, Lieut. -Gen. Fowke, was also court- 
martialled, and sentenced to dismissal from the 
service. Wolfe was one of the court, and was much 
exercised by the fact that Cornwallis had been a party 
to the refusal to assist Byng. Cornwallis had caught 
the general complaint. "lam heartily sorry to find 
him involved with the rest, of whose abilities or 
inclinations nobody has any very high notions ; but 
Cornwallis is a man of approved courage and fidelity. 
He has unhappily been misled upon this occasion by 
people of not half his value." 

In the midst of the excitement incident to the A course 
developments of a great war Wolfe found time to pen of study, 
a long letter in response to an appeal for advice as to 
the best course of study for a young officer — Henry 
Townshend. The letter affords a clue to Wolfe's 
own studies. Assuming that young Townshend was 
master of the Latin and French languages, and had 
some knowledge of mathematics, the study of which 
" will greatly facilitate his progress in military 
matters," Wolfe continues — 

"As to the books that are fittest for his purpose, he may 
begin with King of Prussia's Regulations for his Horse and 
Foot, where the economy and good order of an army in the 
lower branches are extremely well established. Then there 
are the Memoirs of the Marquis de Santa Cruz, Feuquieres, 
and Montecucculi ; Folard's Commentaries upon Polybius, 
the Projet de Tactique, L'Attaque et la Defense des Places, 
par le Marechal de Vauban, Les Mimoires de Goulon, 
V Ingenieur de Campagne, le Sieur Renie for all that concerns 
artillery. Of the ancients, Vegetius, Caesar, Thucydides, 
Xenophon's Life of Cyrus and Retreat of the Ten Thousand 
Greeks. I do not mention Polybius, because the Commen- 
taries and the History naturally go together. Of later days, 
Davila, Guicciardini, Strada, and the Memoirs of the Due de 
Sully. There is an abundance of military knowledge to be 
picked out of the lives of Gustavus Adolphus, and Charles XII, 


King of Sweden, and of Zisca the Bohemian, and if a tolerable 
account could be got of the exploits of Scanderbeg, it would be 
inestimable ; for he excels all the officers, ancient and modern, 
in the conduct of a small defensive army. I met with him in 
the Turkish History, but nowhere else. The Life of 
Suetonius, too, contains many fine things in this way. There 
is a book lately published that I have heard commended, 
V Art de la Guerre Pratique, — I suppose it is collected from 
all the best authors that treat of war ; and there is a little 
volume, entitled Traitt de la Petite Guerre that your brother 
should take in his pocket when he goes upon out-duty and 
detachments. The Marechal de Puysequr's book, too, is in 

"I believe Mr. Townshend will think this catalogue long 
enough ; and if he has patience to read, and desire to apply 
(as I am persuaded he has), the knowledge contained in them, 
there is also wherewithal to make him a considerable person 
in his profession, and of course very useful and serviceable 
to his country. In general, the lives of all great commanders, 
and all good histories of warlike nations, will be instructive, 
and lead him naturally to endeavour to imitate what he 
must necessarily approve of. In these days of scarcity, and 
in these unlucky times, it is much to be wished that all our 
young soldiers of birth and education would follow your 
brother's steps, and, as they will have their turn to command, 
that they would try to make themselves fit for that important 
trust ; without it, we must sink under the superior abilities 
and indefatigable industry of our restless neighbours. In 
what a strange manner have we conducted our affairs in the 
Mediterranean. Quelle belle occasion manque" e ! " 

Wolfe watched the course of events with eager 
expectancy, his anxieties being at once professional 
and patriotic. Changes, additions to, and movements 
in the army naturally were the order of the day. He 
kept a sharp eye on appointments going. " If any 
soldier is preferred when my time comes I shall 
acquaint the Secretary of War that I am sensible of the 
injury that is done me, and will take the earliest 
opportunity to put it out of his or any man's power 
to repeat it. Not while the war lasts ; for if 500 
younger officers one after another were to rise before 


me I should continue to move with the utmost dili- 
gence, to acquit myself to the country, and to show 
the ministers that they had acted unjustly. But 
I flatter myself that I shall never be forced to these 
disagreeable measures." What Mr. Bradley calls 
" a great temptation " came Wolfe's way within a 
few weeks of writing the words just quoted. His 
friends' exertions to secure him some more profitable 
post than that of lieutenant-colonel of Foot brought 
an offer from the Duke of Bedford, Lord-Lieutenant 
of Ireland, of the offices of Barrackmaster-General 
and Quartermaster-General of Ireland. Highly 
sensible of the honour done him, Wolfe accepted on 
one condition — that he was made colonel. If the 
rank of colonel were not given him he would return to 
his battalion immediately, or prefer to take service 
with the King of Prussia in the great war in which 
British troops apparently were not to be employed. 
The King thought Wolfe's " short service " would 
not justify his promotion ; fresh efforts were, how- 
ever, to be made to induce His Majesty to grant 
Wolfe's claim, and in the delay the chance of service 
came. His pretension had saved him from being 
side-tracked at a critical moment ; his acceptance of 
the Irish appointment unconditionally might have 
changed the history of the British Empire. So much 
may depend on the ear man lends to the call to greater 
things ; so is ambition justified. 



When Pitt came back to office in 1757 he came to 
power also. For the first time he found himself able 
to put a policy into force without serious opposition. 
He had England at his back. He was restored in 
response to the people's emphatic demand ; it was 
said of him that he was a minister given by the people 
to the nation. Chesterfield's despondent view " We 
are no longer a nation " was disproved. The people, 
as opposed to the King, the place-hunters, the 
Parliamentarians, at least showed themselves a nation 
in their insistence that they should be led by one who 
was self-reliant and purposeful as he was fearless and 
incorruptible. After a period of intrigue and recrimi- 
nation which make the domestic political record 
almost as complicated a tangle as European diplo- 
macy after the death of Charles VI, England, so long 
in labour, as the King of Prussia put it, had at last 
brought forth a man. Pitt was the very antipodes 
of Walpole in conviction and temperament, as both 
were head and shoulders above their contemporaries 
in their own lines of statesmanship. Pitt, to adapt 
Johnson's gibe about Chesterfield, was a man among 
kings and a king among men. His insight, as Mr. 
Fortescue says, pierced the heart of things ; he 
compassed great designs ; his enthusiasm kindled 
the energy of subordinates, broke down the opposition 
of permanent officials, and carried his country forward 
on " an irresistible wave of patriotic sentiment." 1 

1 A History of the British Army, vol. iii, p. 248. 



Pitt dared where other men hesitated. Indecision, Decisive 
the bane of empire, was as unknown to him as action. 
physical fear to James Wolfe, one of the instruments 
by which he ultimately lifted the whole English race 
to the proudest pitch of self-consciousness. During 
his few months in office with the Duke of Devonshire 
he set the chords vibrating. He sent back to Ger- 
many the foreign mercenaries who were an hourly 
reminder to the Briton of his inability to defend 
hearth and home, and undertook to raise a national 
militia which, without doing violence to prejudices 
against a standing army, should provide a ready and 
reputable means of self-defence. He took a more 
courageous step. He gave instructions that a couple 
of battalions of Highlanders should be formed for 
Imperial service. It would be interesting to know 
with whom originated the idea of turning the gallant 
Scots so recently England's bitter enemies, into 
British soldiers. Duncan Forbes of Culloden some 
years before the '45, urged Walpole to make the 
experiment ; x Wolfe we know proposed it in his 
letter to Rickson in 1751 ; the plan was laid before 
Pitt by Lord Albemarle, Wolfe's late colonel, who 
received it from the Duke of Cumberland ; 2 not 
impossibly, therefore, its authorship might be traced 
to Wolfe himself, as Wright believes. The impor- 
tance of the departure, the very greatness of the idea, 
is emphasised by the disapproval of the Duke of 
Newcastle, Pitt's nominal chief. To crown all in this 
scheme for creating loyal soldiers out of broken 

1 G. M. Wrong : A Canadian Manor and its Seigneurs, 
p. 23. 

3 Almon : Anecdotes of the Earl of Chatham, 3rd Ed., 
vol. i, p. 299. 



enemies, Simon Fraser, Master of Lovat, the son of 
the Simon Fraser whose treachery cost him his 
head, was entrusted with the raising of a regiment. 
The timorous quaked ; the over-cautious shook their 
heads ; and the experiment was soon to prove that 
neither fear nor prejudice but downright solid 
conviction, directed to an end which is as a fixed 
target, provides the pillars of success. 
A series of When Pitt said there was only one man who could 
™nl° r " save England and that man was himself he made no 
idle boast ; he gauged his own powers as surely as he 
gauged the powers of others. In his efforts to work 
with the men immediately available he failed to 
accomplish much. If 1756 was a demoralising year, 
1757 would have taken the country to still lower 
depths but for the superb qualities of endurance of 
this one man. From every quarter save one came 
the same story : incompetence, inertia, defeat. 
Clive alone struck home, and at Plassey laid deep the 
foundations of British Empire in the East. Else- 
where British enterprise miscarried. The Duke of 
Cumberland was defeated by the French at Kloster- 
zeven ; the French in America under Montcalm 
captured Fort William Henry and added a shocking 
chapter to the story of the struggle for empire in 
which the savage has taken part ; Lord Loudon and 
Admiral Holborne set out bravely to recapture 
Louisbourg, and were so impressed with its formidable 
works and the fleet in its splendid harbour that they 
retired without firing a shot, and an expedition sent 
under Admiral Hawke and Sir John Mor daunt to 
harry the French coast returned with one feeble fort 
to its account instead of a record of Rochefort and 
Havre and other places laid under heavy contribution. 


Who but Pitt could have withstood such a series of 
harassing and contemptible failures ? 

Wolfe was with the abortive Rochefort expedition, The 
and it happens that it serves as a fine example alike R °chefort 
of the methods then thought adequate to the mainte- 
nance of Britain's naval and military reputation, of 
the manner in which Wolfe stood out from the 
general rut, and of the sure instinct with which Pitt 
discovered the men who could execute his high 
commands. The expedition was to be a joint naval 
and military affair ; Sir John Mordaunt, by the 
King's wish, was placed at the head of ten thousand 
men who were assembled on the Isle of Wight ; the 
Hon. H. S. Conway and Cornwallis were respectively 
second and third in command, and Wolfe, who was 
appointed Quartermaster-General, came fourth. 
Horace Walpole, who was Conway's relative and great 
admirer, said of Wolfe on this occasion, " The world 
could not expect more from him than he thought 
himself capable of performing. He looked upon 
danger as the favourable moment that would call 
forth his talents." Walpole was more correct in that 
judgment than in a good many. If Pitt proclaimed 
himself the one man to save the country, Wolfe 
conceivably would have advanced the rider " And 
I am the one man who can be trusted to carry out 
your orders." However, Wolfe was quite happy : 
there was fighting to be done and he was to be with 
his old friend Mordaunt. The troops were ready 
long before the transports. Instead of sailing in 
August they did not get off till the 8th of September, 
owing to the misconduct of certain contractors. No 
one knew the destination of the force until it was 
at sea. When Hawke opened his sealed orders he 




found that he was to make for Rochefort. Informa- 
tion had reached Pitt through a Captain Clark who 
had recently been travelling on the west coast of 
France that Rochefort was so ill-prepared for defence 
that it might be taken by a coup de main. 

Pitt saw here an opportunity for creating a diversion 
in the interests of Prussia at the same time that he did 
something to cripple the naval position of France. 
Sir John Mordaunt's instructions were to assist the 
vigorous prosecution of this " just war " by an attack 
on the French coast, it being expedient and of urgent 
necessity to cause a diversion and disturb the credit 
of the enemy in Europe. The Government were 
persuaded that nothing could more speedily and 
effectually annoy and distress France than the 
destruction of docks, shipping, magazines, and 
arsenals. After Rochefort, if the condition of the 
fleet permitted, Sir John Mordaunt was to turn his 
attention to other places with as much rapidity as 
possible in order to create " a warm alarm along the 
maritime provinces of France." There was every 
prospect of five or six weeks' sharp work here, but 
unfortunately the instructions also provided for the 
holding of councils of war, and councils of war 
invariably mean resolutions embodying cumulative 
caution rather than cumulative courage. The expedi- 
tion speedily became a farce, and a very melancholy 
farce for poor Wolfe. In the Bay of Biscay he 
suffered tortures. Arrived off the Isle of Oleron on 
the 20th September, the expedition spent two days 
in futility before Captain Howe in the Magnanime 
attacked a fort on the Isle of Aix, which he reduced 
with an ease that should have been an encouragement 
to other captains. The force which took possession 


of the island behaved disgracefully, to Wolfe's infinite 
disgust. The English, knowing little how to win 
battles, seemed to have forgotten how to behave 
in the hour of victory, however insignificant that 
victory might be. 

On the 23rd Hawke sent out a reconnoitring Councils of 
party up the river with a view to a landing and two war - 
more days were lost. Wolfe himself, by special 
permission of his chief, had already examined the 
position and made a report on which both Hawke 
and Mordaunt were prepared to act. But Conway 
had been interviewing certain prisoners, and their 
not wholly disinterested representations were not in 
accord with Wolfe's ideas. The attempt would be 
full of hazard, and a council of war, at which Wolfe, 
of course, was not present, declared the project to be 
impracticable and inadvisable if practicable. Part 
of a naval force sent to bombard Rochefort got 
aground with some bomb-ketches, and when events 
lent colour to Conway's view, it was suddenly decided 
to act on Wolfe's. Troops were ordered to be in 
readiness to land, and another council of war decided 
that they should attempt the " impracticable " and 
the " inadvisable." On the 28th the landing was to 
take place after dark ; the men were crowded into 
boats which were tossed about for hours whilst 
waiting for the order to go, and at last the order came 
— to return to the ships ! 

If this were not well-attested history it would be Wolfe's 
incredible. Hawke grew impatient, refused to attend se y ere 
any more councils of war, and the whole force returned cnticism " 
to England less than a month after it started, having 
done nothing. It is pretty certain that it might 
have done everything required of it if there had been 


any enterprise on the part of Mordaunt, Conway or 
Cornwallis, and we know from French memoirs of 
the time with what apprehension even the smallest 
success was anticipated. The historian who fixes 
his attention on the military side only says that on 
the whole the troops were sent on a fool's errand, 
that Pitt was solely to blame, and that " military 
opinion was against the expedition from the first." x 
The utter inability of the great bulk of contemporary 
military opinion to rise to the level of Pitt's concep- 
tion of the strategic needs of an empire based on the 
sea could not be more concisely stated. Wolfe took 
a very different view both as to the military operations 
themselves and the nature of the errand. 2 He told 
his mother that he was ashamed to have been of the 
party. " The public could not do better than 
dismiss some six or eight of us from the service : no 
zeal, no ardour, no care or concern for the good and 
honour of the country." To his uncle Walter he 
wrote a full and particular account of the affair in 
which he described how " the lucky moment in war " 
was lost beyond recovery — 

" ' Nous avons manqui un beau coup,' as the French prisoners 
told us, after we had loitered away three or four days in 
consultations, deliberations, and councils of war. The 
season of the year and nature of the enterprise called for the 
quickest and most vigorous execution, whereas our proceed- 
ings were quite otherwise. We were in sight of the Isle of 
Rhe the 20th September, consequently were seen by the 
enemy (as their signals left us no room to doubt), and it was 
the 23rd before we fired a gun. That afternoon and night 
slipped through our hands, — the lucky moment of confusion 
and consternation among our enemies. The 24th, Admirals 

1 Fortescue : History of the British Army, vol. ii, p. 38. 

a Lord Chesterfield to his son : " Your friend Colonel 
Wolfe publicly offered to do the business with 500 men and 
three ships only." Correspondence of Chatham, vol. i, p. 279. 


and Generals consult together, and resolve upon nothing 
between them but to hold a council of war. The 25th, this 
famous council sat from morning till late at night, and the 
result of the debates was unanimously not to attack the place 
they were ordered to attack, and for reasons that no soldier 
will allow to be sufficient. The 26th, — the Admiral sends a 
message to the General, intimating that if they did not 
determine to do something there he would go to another 
place. The 27th, — the Generals and Admiral view the land 
with glasses, and agree upon a second council of war, having 
by this time discovered their mistake. The 28th, — they 
deliberate, and resolve to land that night. Orders are issued 
out accordingly, but the wind springing up after the troops 
had been two or three hours in the boats, the officers of the 
navy declare it difficult and dangerous to attempt the landing. 
The troops are commanded back to their transports, and so 
ended the expedition 1 The true state of the case is, that our 
sea-officers do not care to be engaged in any business of this 
sort, where little is to be had but blows and reputation ; and 
the officers of the infantry are so profoundly ignorant, that 
an enterprise of any vigour astonishes them to that degree 
that they have not strength of mind nor confidence to carry 
it through. 

" I look upon this as the greatest design that the nation has 
engaged in for many years, and it must have done honour to 
us all if the execution had answered the intentions of the 
projector. The Court of Versailles, and the whole French 
nation, were alarmed beyond measure. ' Les Anglais onl 
attrapS notre foible,' disent-ils. Alas ! we have only discovered 
our own. I see no remedy, for we have no officers from the The officers 
commander-in-chief down to Mr. Webb and Lord Howe ; responsible 
and the navy list is not much better. If they would even 
blunder on and fight a little, making some amends to the 
public by their courage for their want of skill ; but this 
excessive degree of caution, or whatever name it deserves, 
leaves exceeding bad impressions among the troops, who, to 
do them justice, upon this occasion showed all the signs of 
spirit and goodwill." 

This last opinion notwithstanding, he could not 
forget the shameful exhibition on the Isle of Aix. 
Caustic at the expense of the egregious blunderers 
" on both sides — sea and land," and ready to recog- 
nise the desire for employment of common soldier 

8— (2213) 



" golden 
utterance ' 

and common sailor alike, Wolfe, writing to his father, 
expressed the hope that " these disappointments 
won't affect their courage ; nothing I think can affect 
their discipline — it is at its worst. They shall drink 
and swear, plunder and massacre with any troops in 
Europe, the Cossacks and Calmucks themselves not 
excepted ; with this difference that they have not 
quite so violent an appetite for blood and bonfires." 
For Rickson's benefit he elaborated a series of 
axioms, which show how he endeavoured to turn even 
failure to account. Mr. Corbett describes this letter 
as a " priceless document." Amidst so much 
recrimination there stands out this " one golden utter- 
ance " from the pen of Wolfe, who gathered from the 
failure " all the lessons it could teach, laid them 
quietly to his heart, and wove from them to his lasting 
honour the reputation of being the greatest master 
of combined warfare the world had seen since Drake 
took the art from its swaddling clothes." 1 Here is 
the letter — 

" One may always pick up something useful from amongst 
the most fatal errors. I have found out that an Admiral 
should endeavour to run into an enemy's port immediately 
after he appears before it ; that he should anchor the trans- 
port-ships and frigates as close as he can to the land ; that 
he should reconnoitre and observe it as quick as possible, 
and lose no time in getting the troops on shore ; that previous 
directions should be given in respect to landing the troops, 
and a proper disposition made for the boats of all sorts, 
appointing leaders and fit persons for conducting the different 
divisions. On the other hand, experience shows me that, 
in an affair depending upon vigour and dispatch, the Generals 
should settle their plan of operations, so that no time may be 
lost in idle debate and consultations when the sword should 
be drawn ; that pushing on smartly is the road to success, and 
more particularly so in an affair of this nature ; that nothing 
is to be reckoned an obstacle to your undertaking which is 

1 England in the Seven Years' War, vol. i, p. 221. 



not found really so upon trial ; that in war something must 
be allowed to chance and fortune, seeing it is in its nature 
hazardous, and an option of difficulties ; that the greatness 
of an object should come under consideration, opposed to 
the impediments that lie in the way ; that the honour of 
one's country is to have some weight ; and that, in particular 
circumstances and times, the loss of a thousand men is rather 
an advantage to a nation than otherwise, seeing that gallant 
attempts raise its reputation and make it respectable ; 
whereas the contrary appearances sink the credit of a country, 
ruin the troops, and create infinite uneasiness and discontent 
at home. 

" I know not what to say, my dear Rickson, or how to 
account for our proceedings, unless I own to you that there 
never was people collected together so unfit for the business 
they were sent upon — dilatory, ignorant, irresolute, and some 
grains of a very unmanly quality, and very unsoldier-like 
or unsailor-like. I have already been too imprudent ; I have 
said too much, and people make me say ten times more than 
I ever uttered ; therefore, repeat nothing out of my letter, 
nor name my name as author of any one thing. The whole 
affair turned upon the impracticability of escalading Roche- 
fort ; and the two evidences brought to prove that the ditch 
was wet (in opposition to the assertions of the chief engineer, 
who had been in the place), are persons to whom, in my mind, 
very little credit should be given ; without these evidences 
we should have landed, and must have marched to Rochefort, 
and it is my opinion that the place would have surrendered, 
or have been taken, in forty-eight hours. It is certain that 
there was nothing in all that country to oppose 9,000 good 
Foot, — a million of Protestants, upon whom it is necessary 
to keep a strict eye, so that the garrison could not venture 
to assemble against us, and no troops, except the militia, 
within any moderate distance of these parts. Little 
practice in war, ease and convenience at home, great incomes, 
and no wants, with no ambition to stir to action, are not the 
instruments to work a successful war withal ; I see no 
prospect of better deeds. I know not where to look for them, 
or from whom we may expect them. Many handsome things 
would have been done by the troops had they been permitted 
to act." 

The wrong 

Quite in keeping with the spirit of the proceedings Fixing 
before Rochefort, each of the two services impartially lM S -?£ nsi " 
attempted to fix responsibility on the other. An " 


official inquiry before which Wolfe had to appear 
wrung from him the comment : " Better and more 
honourable for the country if one half of us had gone 
the road of mortality together than to be plagued 
with inquiries and censures and the cry of the world." 
The officers who held the inquiry decided that if 
Wolfe's plan had been adopted '' it must certainly 
have been of the greatest utility " towards the 
attainment of the object in view. General Mordaunt 
was then tried by court-martial ; no special blame 
was attached to anyone, " so that this grand expedi- 
tion miscarried without a cause " * — a fittingly 
illogical conclusion to the whole business. " And 
there," to quote Wolfe's own words, which he 
described as " insolent," " ended the reputation of 
three bad generals." Two people at least kept 
Wolfe's record at this time in mind : one was Horace 
Walpole, who hated him for the reflections his 
evidence had cast on Conway, the other was Pitt. 
To make assurance doubly sure no less a person than 
Admiral Hawke drew attention to Wolfe's conduct. 
Within a fortnight of his return to England Wolfe 
heard that the King had been pleased to give him 
the rank of colonel. Only four days previously he 
had announced his surrender of the Irish appoint- 
ment, but in response to representations from influ- 
ential quarters he held his hand, though he persisted 
that he would not go to Ireland in any case without 
his colonelcy. Now that he had got the step he 
wanted — a step he prized all the more because it 
followed on the Rochefort fiasco — he was not to take 
up the Irish post. He soon learned that he was wanted 

1 John Campbell : Naval History of Great Britain, vol. iv, 
p. 373. 


elsewhere, and for a bigger if less remunerative 

Pitt was spurred to greater efforts than ever by Pitt's 
the mishaps of the past year. It was not his habit P lans * 
to bring new mischiefs on by mourning those that 
were past and gone. His plans grew bigger as the 
rebuffs multiplied, and he faced his country's enemies 
in exactly the same spirit that he had faced his 
personal enemies in Parliament for so many years. 
He set himself now not merely to defeat the French, 
but on and beyond the seas to break them altogether. 
In America they were making steady headway. 
They must be driven out and never again be allowed 
to enter. His plan of campaign was triple in char- 
acter. He would send three expeditions, one to 
take Fort Duquesne, one to Ticonderoga and Crown 
Point, and one to Louisbourg, the three working up 
to the grand finale at Quebec. He recalled Loudon 
and appointed Abercromby, who proved to be no 
better than Loudon, to the command of his Majesty's 
forces in America, giving him as brigadier Lord Howe, 
one of the best officers in the army, from whom Wolfe 
expected " handsome performances." If Howe had 
been appointed to command the Ticonderoga expedi- 
tion instead of Abercromby the initial performance 
would have been very different. As it was, 
Abercromby suffered a serious reverse, and Lord 
Howe, " a complete model of military virtue in all 
its branches," as Pitt said, was sacrificed. Pitt had 
not yet weeded out all the incompetents in command. 
For the Duquesne expedition he selected Forbes, a 
young officer whose abilities were in inverse ratio 
to his health, and ill as he was, Forbes drove the 
French from the fort after a most arduous expedition. 






The attack on Louisbourg, the big job of the three, 
was to be led by Lord Amherst, whom Pitt summoned 
from Germany. With Amherst, Wolfe was to go as 
brigadier. In the command of the fleet wh'ch was 
to co-operate, was placed Admiral the Hon. Edward 
Boscawen. Preparations were hurried forward, and 
Wolfe in Exeter, on January 7th, 1758, received a 
letter which brought him to town post-haste. Riding 
through the night, he accomplished the distance, 170 
miles, in twenty hours. For the next fortnight he 
was busy fixing up his personal and professional 
affairs, and by the end of the month he expected to 
be at sea. How he looked forward to the time when 
possibly he might be able to take a voyage without 
enduring inexpressible pain — pain which was not 
lessened by the consciousness that dignity and sea- 
sickness are incompatible. During the interval in 
London, he made Blackheath his head-quarters ; 
his parents, whose health occasioned him much 
concern, were at Bath, and there was no cheery 
send-off. His letters do not, however, suggest that 
he was very miserable. Work is misery's antidote, 
and Wolfe had plenty to do. Two references 
in his correspondence with his mother have 
some bearing on his ideas as to his future : one 
is to the youngest of his mother's neighbours 
at Bath, probably the Miss Lowther who was to take 
the place of Miss Lawson in his heart ; the other, 
dated the 25th January, is this : "Of late, no 
thought of matrimony ; I have no objection to 
it but differ much from the general opinion about 
it. The greatest consideration with me is the 
woman, her education and temper. Rank and 
fortune never come into any competition with the 


person. Any bargain on that affair is base and 
mean. I could not with any satisfaction consider 
my children as the produce of such an unnatural 

Wolfe left for Portsmouth on the 1st February, Portsmouth 
and was impatient as usual to be off. On the 11th in I 757« 
he wrote to his mother : " Delays are not only pro- 
ductive of bad consequences, but are very tiresome 
and very inconvenient, as every unhappy person whose 
lot is to be confined for any time to this place can 
certify. The want of company and of amusement 
can be supplied with books and exercise, but the 
necessity of living in the midst of the diabolical 
citizens of Portsmouth is a real and unavoidable 
calamity. It is a doubt to me if there is such another 
collection of demons upon the whole earth. Vice, 
however, wears so ugly a garb that it disgusts rather 
than tempts. ' ' Wolfe was not sparing in his criticisms 
of the places in which he found himself . On the 12th 
he went on board the Princess Amelia; three days 
later he was at sea, and by the 22nd he was off 
Plymouth Sound in such bad weather that one 
important vessel was wrecked on a sandbank. It was 
six weeks before the fleet reached Halifax. " From 
Christopher Columbus' time to our days there perhaps 
has never been a more extraordinary voyage. The 
continual opposition of contrary winds, calms or 
currents baffled all our skill and wore out all our 
patience." 1 What a place Halifax must have been 
to Brigadier James Wolfe : full of activity and 
excitement, with ships and troops gathered from 

1 Letter to Lord George Sackville : His. MSS. Com., IX, 
iii, p. 74. Von Ruville (vol. ii, p. 257) mistakes this voyage 
of 1758 for that of 1759. 



" amphi- 
scheme. ' ' 

many parts in readiness for the grand coup to be 
delivered at Louisbourg. 

Admiral Boscawen was indefatigable on the naval 
side, and the army only awaited the arrival of General 
Amherst. In conformity with instructions from Pitt, 
Boscawen and Governor Lawrence in the interval 
proceeded to devise a plan for the reduction of the 
fortress. The plan adopted was probably Wolfe's : 
" it was elaborate and strongly redolent of his theory 
of combined operations," says Mr. Corbett. 1 " The 
general idea, as always with him, was based on the 
advantage of their amphibious flexibility. Wolfe, 
with three battalions of his favourite Light Infantry, 
was to land in Mire Bay, about ten miles to the north 
of Louisbourg, and to march thence towards Gabarus 
Bay with the intention presumably of taking in 
reverse the landing-place at Cormorant Cove which 
the French had now strongly entrenched." Monckton 
was to descend on a cove between Louisbourg and 
Mire Bay, Boscawen with his fleet was to demonstrate 
at the mouth of the harbour, and a third force was to 
slip ashore at Gabarus Bay beyond the French works. 
" Nothing," wrote Wolfe to Lord Sackville on May 
24th, " is yet fixed nor will be till we see the object 
[objective], and perhaps General Amherst may arrive 
in the meanwhile, time enough to improve the present 
plan." 2 Amherst did arrive in time. He sighted 
Halifax on the 28th, the very day that Boscawen put 
to sea, and Wolfe's plan did not commend itself to him. 
" We can well believe that the division of force which 
it entailed and which was always the essence of 
Wolfe's conduct of amphibious operations was rank 

1 England in the Seven Years' War, vol. i, p. 318. 

2 His. MSS. Com. IX, iii, p. 75. 


heresy to a Continental strategist." 1 The very spirit 
of originality in Wolfe's scheme was enough to give 
Amherst pause. There was none better than Amherst 
on conventional lines, and there was none less likely 
to adhere to conventional lines than Wolfe. 

1 England in the Seven Years' War, vol. i, p. 321. 



Louisbourg. By the 1st June the fleet was in Gabarus Bay ; on the 
2nd a fog which had enveloped the fortress, the 
Dunkirk of America, lifted as though to give the 
British an idea of the task before them. What Wolfe 
felt when he first caught sight of Louisbourg, what 
Amherst and Boscawen felt, can only be matter of 
conjecture. Situated on the south east of the Isle 
of Cape Breton, provided by nature with defences 
which the science of the French engineers had done 
its best to make impregnable, it had long been recog- 
nised by American Governors, as well as French and 
English Governments, as the key to New Canada's 
main entrance. Known by the French before the 
Treaty of Utrecht as Havre a l'Anglais and by the 
English as English Harbour, directly that Treaty was 
signed France took possession. What she had 
hitherto done from the banks of Newfoundland she 
now intended to 'do from the fine harbour of Louis- 
bourg. It served the purpose of empire and of 
commerce ; it was a naval base, at once a protection 
to the St. Lawrence and a refuge for her fleets against 
superior British forces and the storms of the Atlantic ; 
it was a first-rate point from which to attack the 
English colonies on the Atlantic front, and it became 
the centre of the French fishing industry. To New 
England, Louisbourg was an ever-present source of 
annoyance ; that the men of Massachusetts had 
managed to take possession of it must have given 



Amherst and Wolfe cause for thought ; that the 
place once secured should have been given up on 
any consideration must have made them marvel at 
the genius of statesmanship for throwing away what 
the soldier and sailor had won. In the ten troubled 
years that had elapsed since the Treaty of Aix-la- 
Chapelle no effort had been spared to make it im- Formidable 
possible Louisbourg should ever again be captured, defences. 
The town was built on the tongue of land to the west 
of the harbour's mouth : on the seaward side frowning 
cliffs and a rock-bound shore cast defiance at stressful 
billow and determined invader : on the land side 
formidable works stood between a marsh and the 
town, and for miles the shore was commanded by 
masked batteries. In the centre of the harbour 
mouth was an island 1 well fortified, on the opposite 
point where the lighthouse stood were more defences, 
and across the harbour, on the north side, were the 
Grand Battery and other works. Louisbourg at this 
time was in charge of Governor Drucour ; its popula- 
tion was some 2,000, and he had with him 2,500 regular 
troops, 600 burghers and Canadians, and some 3,000 
sailors belonging to a fleet of seven ships of the line, 
and five frigates which lay in the harbour. 2 Amherst's 
force, composed largely of picked bodies of troops 

1 This island is variously spoken of as Battery Island and 
Goat Island. Parkman calls it Goat Island both in his text 
and on his map. Mr. Bradley speaks of it as Goat Island, 
but his map (The Fight with France for North America) shows 
Goat Island not to be Battery Island at all. Sir John 
Bourinot also calls Battery Island Goat Island, but his map 
(Cape Breton and its Memorials) seems to make it clear that 
Battery Island and Goat Island were distinct places. 

2 Captain Mahan ( The Influence of Sea Power on History, 
p. 293) says there were only five ships in the harbour — 
obviously a mistake. Bourinot (Cape Breton, p. 73) accounts 
for fourteen, of which two got clear away. 


from many regiments and from the volunteers of New 
England, was 12,000 strong ; Boscawen's fleet con- 
sisted of thirty-nine battleships, 118 transports, two 
fire ships — a magnificent Armada, an earnest of 
Pitt's resolve to give France no chance now of 
successfully disputing with Great Britain the Empire 
of the West. 
The The first thing to be done was to reconnoitre ; late 

landing. n the afternoon of the 2nd of June when the fleet 
was safely anchored in Gabarus Bay, Amherst, with 
Wolfe and Lawrence and other officers, got into the 
boats and made as minute a study of the shore as a 
rough sea, the treacherous rocks and the vigilance of 
the French posted behind concealed guns would 
allow. From Freshwater Cove away on the west past 
Flat Point and White Point to Black Point near 
the town, they found, said Wolfe, " some works 
thrown up at the places which appeared practicable 
to land at, and some batteries." 1 But Amherst took 
his decision. He would endeavour to effect a landing 
on the left, that is, at Freshwater Cove, some four 
miles from the town, whilst making a pretence at 
landing at other points nearer. Everything was 
made ready for the morrow. The weather was, 
however, unfavourable. For three days wind and 
surf alternated with fog and swell, and the Admiral 
had reluctantly to confess that he could not land the 
troops. There was talk of a Council of War, but that 
discredited expedient was happily not resorted to. 
On the 6th of June the weather moderated ; the 
boats were promptly got out, and the men ordered 
into them, but the fog and swell returned before they 
were ready to put off, and Amherst had to order them 
1 Correspondence of Pitt, vol. i, p. 271. 



to return to the ships, " first acquainting them with 
the reason for so doing," he says significantly. Wolfe 
could not have failed to remember Rochefort, and 
Amherst was not inclined to allow his officers and 
men to think for a moment that similar demoralising 
influences were at work now. All the same, we know 
enough of Wolfe by this time to be sure that he was 

not taking this delay with absolute resignation — a 
delay which everyone was aware the enemy would 
turn to the best possible account. Once more on the 
7th there was promise, this time not to be disap- 
pointed, of a change for the better. A number of 
sloops were sent off to the other side of the harbour 
entrance, and early on the following morning three 
divisions were ready in the boats for the landing. At 
three points, frigates opened a sharp cannonade as 
though they were covering the landing parties, and 


to the roar of guns — music in the ears of men em- 
barked on a life and death struggle — hundreds of 
boats were pulled with all the vigour which the 
British bluejacket could put into the work, towards 
the shore. In his graphically simple, soldier-like way, 
Amherst reports 1 — 

Amherst's " When the fire had continued about a Quarter of an Hour, 

report. the Boats upon the left rowed into the Shore under the 

Command of Br. General Wolfe, whose Detachment was 
composed of the four eldest Companys of Grenadiers, followed 
by the Light Infantry, (a Corps of 550 Men chosen as Marks- 
men from the different Regiments to serve as Irregulars, and 
are commanded by Major Scott, who was Major of brigade), ( 2 ) 
and Companys of Rangers, supported by the Highland 
Regiment, and then by the Eight remaining Companys of 

"The Division on the right under the Command of Br. 
General Whitmore consisted of the Royal, Lascelles, 
Monckton, Forbes, Anstruther, and Webb, and rowed to 
our right by the White Point as if intending to force a landing 
there. The center Division under the Command of Br. 
General Lawrence was formed of Amherst's, Hopson's. 
Otway's, Whitmore's, Lawrence's, and Warburton's, and 
made at the same time a shew of landing at the fresh-water 
Cove : ( 3 ) this drew the Enemy's attention to every part and 

1 Correspondence of Pitt, vol. i, pp. 273-4. 

( 2 ) The Light Infantry, specially dressed and armed, were 
an idea of Wolfe's. The smartness of their movements 
induced an officer to say that they reminded him of the 
Carduchi who harassed Xenophon in his retreat over the 
mountains. " You are right," said Wolfe, " I had it thence ; 
but our friends are astonished at what I have shown them 
because they have read nothing." — (Wright, p. 442 : quoted 
from James's Military Dictionary.) 

( 3 ) As Parkman's map (Montcalm and Wolfe, vol. ii) shows 
Freshwater Cove to be on the extreme left where Wolfe landed 
and as Bourinot (Cape Breton and its Memorials, p. 70) says 
Wolfe made the real attack there, Amherst possibly meant 
to write Flat Point Cove, which would be the centre. Mr. 
Doughty speaks of Lawrence at Freshwater Cove (vol. i, 
p. 104), This is only another geographical discrepancy 
defying settlement. 


prevented their troops posted along the Coast from joining 
those on their Right. 

" The Enemy acted very wisely, did not throw away a Shot 
till the Boats were near in Shore, and then directed the whole 
Fire of their Cannon and Musketry upon them ; the Surf 
was so great, that a place could hardly be found to get a boat 
on shore ; notwithstanding the fire of the Enemy, and the 
violence of the surf, Brigadier Wolfe pursued his point and 
landed just at the left of the cove,^) took post, attacked the 
Enemy and forced them to retreat. Many Boats overset, 
several broke to Pieces, and all the Men jumped into the 
Water to get on shore. 

"As soon as the left Division was landed, the first Detach- 
ments of the center rowed at a proper time to the left and 
followed, then the remainder of the Center division as fast as 
the boats could fetch them from the Ships and the right 
Division followed the Center in like Manner. 

" It took up a great deal of time to land the Troops, the 
Enemy's Retreat, or rather Flight, was through the roughest 
and worst Ground I ever saw, and the Pursuit ended with 
a Cannonading from the town which was so far of use, that it 
pointed out how near I could encamp to invest it ; on which 
the Regiments marched to their ground and lay on their 
Arms, the wind encreased, and we could not get any thing 
on shore." 

From other sources we get more detail of the event. The first 
Wolfe leading the left got near the shore only to be battery- 
received with so hot a fire that he speedily came to 
the conclusion no man could scramble through the 
surf and up the rocks with a chance of living. He 
ordered that the signal to stand away from the shore 
should be hoisted, but the mast which carried it was 
instantly smashed by a shot. At that moment he saw 
that a couple of other boats in charge of subalterns 
had found protection behind a projecting rock, and 
that men were actually leaping into the surf. In an 
instant he was with them followed by his Grenadiers, 

( x ) The spot where Wolfe landed is known to-day as Wolfe's 
Rock (Ochiltree Macdonald : Last Siege of Louisbourg, p. 169). 


his Highlanders, and his Light Infantry. 1 Cane in 
hand — not sword, as the would-be laureate 2 of the 
siege says — he had no time to think of boats smashed, 
of luckless men swept away ; he rapidly formed up 
those who were with him, and in the teeth of the 
enemy's fire charged for the first battery. Not a 
man should have lived to tell the story if the guns 
had been properly served. Wolfe, when he came to 
review events quietly, was convinced that the cost 
to the British should have been heavy even though 
the affair had not ended in irretrievable disaster. 
" An officer and thirty men," he told Rickson later, 
' would [he meant should] have made it impossible 
to get ashore where we did." 

Montcalm, when he heard of it, was amazed that 
the British had succeeded in gaining a footing on 
what had hitherto been regarded as an inaccessible 
coast for military purposes. How was it, he asked, 
that troops charged with the defence of the entrench- 
ments at this point, did not march after the first 
discharge of artillery and musketry, with bayonets 
fixed, upon the English whom they should have 
destroyed. 3 One answer is that the bravest defenders 
are apt to lose heart when the attack does the 

1 An eye-witness quoted by Mr. Ochiltree Macdonald 
{The Last Siege of Louisbourg, p. 167) said the French fire 
was so severe the men quailed before it. Wolfe and Lawrence 
leapt ashore, crying " Follow me, my boys : this is for 
England's glory," and the example inspired the troops. 
Lawrence was not with Wolfe at the moment of landing. 
The situation is sufficiently dramatic to lose by melodramatic 

2 Mr. Ochiltree Macdonald, whose little book contains 
some shocking doggerel and much that is curious about 

3 Casgrain : Journal du Marquis de Montcalm, p. 383. 


seemingly impossible. Whatever the explanation the 
French, or as some say, the Volontaires Etrangers ; 
a contingent of German mercenaries, did not care to 
risk cold steel ; they were fearful of being cut off, 
and the movements to the centre and right did as 
much perhaps to win the day as Wolfe's and his 
companions' daring. Wolfe was in possession of the 
abandoned battery when Amherst and the other 
Brigadiers joined him. The enemy abandoned seven- 
teen guns, four mortars, four swivells, with ammuni- 
tion, tools, stores, food, wine, brandy — all of which 
were of immediate use. Meanwhile the pursuit was 
hot. It was only stayed when the guns on Louis- 
bourg's bastions warned the British that advantage 
had been pushed to its limits. The panic spread 
round the harbour. Every outpost was abandoned. 
Whilst the British were making themselves secure, 
the French outside the fortress destroyed their works, 
spiked their guns, and retreated as fast as boats and 
legs could carry them. Even the fleet soon had reason 
to wish itself anywhere but in the harbour. The 
Admiral, days before, would have taken it to the 
comparative safety of the high seas, but Governor 
Drucour, who had an idea that it might be of material 
assistance to the defence, objected. He and the 
Admiral were both right. The fleet was in a trap, but 
so long as it lasted it was of great service. 

Amherst's operations for some days were impeded At Light- 
by bad weather, which prevented the landing of siege ho H se 
guns and other heavy material. Boscawen reported Point 
that he lost no fewer than 100 boats in thirteen days 
between the fleet and the shore. But Amherst did 
not waste his time. He familiarised himself with 
the ground, he reconnoitred " places from which he 

9— (2213) 


could most sensibly insult the enemy's works," 1 he 
built redoubts, and threw up earthworks. The first 
important decision was to send Wolfe with 1,200 
men to take possession of Lighthouse Point as the 
most convenient position from which to attempt the 
destruction of the men of war and to silence the 
island battery. The distance round the harbour was 
some seven or eight miles, and to get to Lighthouse 
Point Wolfe had to lead his detachment through 
ambuscades of lurking Indians. 2 They could not 
have been in great force or he would not have 
reached the point unmolested, as he did. Wolfe 
found Lighthouse Point abandoned, but commanded 
by the island battery. From the north-east corner 
of the harbour to the Lighthouse he established 
entrenched posts and batteries ; he worked away 
with spade and pickaxe till his parties were able to 
inflict the maximum amount of damage with the 
minimum of risk to themselves. To get near enough 
to the point to silence the island battery without 
heavy loss to his own men was the problem Wolfe 
set himself to solve. His conduct on this occasion 
stamped him for the intrepid, cautious, and skilful 
leader he was. His disposition of and care for his 
men, his precautions against surprise either from the 
French garrison and fleet, or the Canadians and the 
Indians who were prepared to pounce upon him from 
the hills and woods, his elaborate instructions for the 
guidance of the officers in charge of the batteries, his. 
concern for the efficiency and vigilance of the various 
working parties, enabled him to say to Amherst by 

1 Knox : Historical Journal of the Campaign in North 

2 Macdonald, p. 168. 


the 19th : " My posts are now so fortified, I can 
afford you two companies of Yankees, and the more 
as they are better for ranging and scouting than 
either work or vigilance." Wolfe at times used 
strong language about the American irregular. x He 
may have shared some of the costly prejudices of 
Imperial officers like Braddock, but he was too 
enterprising and progressive a soldier himself to have 
retained the prejudice when experience proved it 
misplaced. " Are you not surprised," he continued, 
" to find that I have a battery here ? " that is in the 
north-east harbour. " The ground upon which I 
propose to erect a formidable battery against island 
battery is so much exposed that I must wait for a 
dark night or a fog to get it up." He believed the 
French ships were in " a confounded scrape ; that 
is if our bombardiers are worth a farthing." The 
conditions he desired came that night, for by the 20th 
he had advanced his principal battery sufficiently to 
begin pummelling away at the island. The ships 
fired away at Wolfe's batteries on shore ; the batteries 
kept up a duel with the ships and the island ; and 
Amherst's main body and the defenders worked their 
guns incessantly. On the 25th the island battery 
was silenced and Wolfe, leaving a sufficient contingent 
to man Lighthouse Point and prevent the restoration 
of the demolished battery, returned to his chief. 

Amherst was making steady, if laborious, progress. Wolfe's 
The British lines were being gradually pushed nearer ener ey« 
the fatal city. Redoubts, epaulement, roads, trenches, 
had to be made through country swept not only by 
the guns of the fortress, but by those of a ship in the 
harbour. The Arethuse had pluckily taken up a 

1 Letter to Sackville, His. MSS. Com. IX, iii. p. 77. 


position in the western corner known as the Barachois, 
and was able to rake the British lines in a way which 
made her fire more troublesome than that of the 
fortress itself. Wolfe's return had the effect of 
putting more spirit into the safe and somewhat stolid 
movements of the besiegers. Of course, Amherst's 
difficulties were great, and in a letter to Pitt he said 
that his approach had not been as rapid as he could 
wish owing to the necessity of landing everything in 
" an almost continual surf, the making of roads, 
draining and passing of bogs and putting ourselves 
under cover." But for Wolfe difficulties existed to 
be overcome and if possible transferred to the enemy. 
The Brigadier was everywhere, now superintending 
the erection of a battery, which was to make the 
Barachois untenable for the Arethuse, at the same 
time that it cleared the way to the West Gate of the 
City ; now directing the works away to the far right. 
He did so much that there is perhaps a tendency to 
give him credit for more than he actually accom- 
plished. What is certain is that the enemy never 
knew from evening to morning where a fresh battery 
would spring up in order to enable the main army 
to " carry on their approaches with the greater 
security and more expedition. Some People of the 
Garrison, to express their Surprize at this and some 
other Instances of the Suddenness of Brigadier Wolfe's 
Motions from one Place to another, and their Senti- 
ments of the Effect of his Operations, used to say — 
There is no Certainty where to find him — but, 
wherever he goes, he carries with him a Mortar in one 
Pocket and a 24-pounder in the other." 1 

1 " A Spectator," quoted by Doughty : Siege of Quebec, 
vol. i, p. 117. 


Such efforts told apace. The day after Wolfe Complaints 
silenced the island battery, the French in order to and 
prevent Admiral Boscawen from entering the harbour, 
sank four of their battleships at the mouth. Getting 
desperate, the defenders made more than one sortie, 
and were repulsed after considerable loss on both 
sides. Wolfe's batteries made themselves more and 
more felt, * and a note of his to Amherst suggests that 
the French were beginning to complain. He wrote : 
" When the French are in a scrape they are ready to 
cry out in behalf of the human species : when fortune 
favours them none more bloody, more inhuman. 
Montcalm changed the very nature of war and has 
forced us in some measure to a deterring and dreadful 
vengeance." The allusion here of course is to such 
unhappy incidents as the massacre of the English 
after the surrender of Fort William Henry for which 
Montcalm must be held in part responsible. The 
French in Canada always had the horror of that day 
on their consciences and dreaded the vengeance 
British victory might bring with it. In the siege of 
Louisbourg chivalry and humanity went hand in 
hand with the stern arbitrament of shot and shell. 
Drucour offered Amherst the services of a skilled 
physician should he be in need of one ; Amherst 
acknowledged the courtesy by sending some pine 
apples from the West Indies for the acceptance of 
Madame Drucour, who was with her husband, and 
was the good angel of the hard-pressed garrison ; 
Madame made grateful return in the shape of a case 
of excellent wine. 

Personal amenities only threw professional ardour Disaster on 
on both sides into stronger relief. Daily the British disaster. 

1 Even the Ships' Logs bear witness to Wolfe's special energy. 


pressed their advantages home. The Arethuse was 
badly hit and left her moorings : that was an immense 
gain. She repaired her injuries and then escaped 
through the obstructions at the entrance of the 
harbour, intending to carry news of Louisbourg's 
plight to France. She enjoyed no better luck than 
another vessel which got away much earlier with the 
idea of making for Quebec. Both fell into the hands 
of British vessels which patrolled the seas wherever 
it might be expected the French would appear. l On 
the 21st July a bomb fell on U Entreprennant, which 
carried seventy-four guns ; there was a big explosion, 
and the vessel burst into flames ; the flames spread 
to the Capricieux and the Celebre (sixty-four guns 
each) and all three were burnt out. 2 Disaster 
followed disaster. A fire broke out in the citadel, and 
to prevent its being properly dealt with the besiegers 
pounded away at other points ; after the citadel the 
barracks, a structure mainly wooden which the New 
Englanders had erected during their occupation a 
dozen years earlier, were consumed in the same way. 
The French shooting became of the wildest, and old 
iron or any missile that could be hurled from the guns 
was used for shot. Wolfe's energy seemed to grow 
with the enemy's demoralisation. Writing from the 
" Trenches at Daybreak " on the 25th, he requested 
that he should be " indulged " with six hours' rest 
in order that he might serve in the trenches at night. 

1 Bourinot ( Cape Breton, p. 73) says the ArSthuse reached 
France and was taken subsequently whilst cruising in the 

2 Parkman, Bradley and Doughty say the explosion was 
on the CSlibre. Boscawen's report (Correspondence of Pitt, 
vol. i, p. 308) shows that they have reversed the order of 


That night of the 25-6th was to put the crowning 
touch to French troubles. Admiral Boscawen sent the 
boats of his squadron in two divisions under Captains 
Laforey and Balfour into the harbour to capture 
or burn the Prudent, seventy-four guns, and the 
Bienfaisant, sixty-four guns, the only ships remaining 
of the French fleet. It was " a particular gallant 
action," as Boscawen says. The sailors in the dark, 
which was intensified by fog, silently reached and 
surrounded the two warships, clambered up their sides 
almost before the alarm could be given, and after a 
few minutes of sharp work overwhelmed the crews in 
charge. As the Prudent was aground, she was set 
alight ; the Bienfaisant was got safely away, and 
towed to the north-east harbour. A few hours later 
Boscawen was prepared to send his own battleships 
in. But it was unnecessary ; the last big gun on the 
walls was silenced by Amherst just about this time, 
and the end was very near. 
The white flag was hoisted and Drucour sent out Thecapitu- 

1 4-* 

to learn what terms would be granted if he capitulated. 26th Tulv 
He asked that he might be accorded those given by 1758. 
the French to the English garrison of Minorca. 
Amherst and Boscawen decided without a second's 
hesitation that the garrison must surrender as 
prisoners of war ; the surrender to be agreed upon 
within an hour, otherwise the city would be attacked 
' on all sides. Drucour protested ; the only answer 
he got was that he might accept the conditions or 
not as he chose, and he must now say Yes or No 
within half an hour. His brief response was that his 
final resolution remained unaltered ; he would take 
the consequences of the attack. His messenger had 
barely left when the civil authorities intervened in 


order to avert the horrors of an assault. The prayers 
of an intimidated people were that they might not, 
to satisfy military glory, " be delivered over to 
carnage and the rage of an unbridled soldiery, eager 
for plunder and impelled to deeds of horror by 
pretended resentment at what has formerly happened 
in Canada." How long these impassioned repre- 
sentations occupied, how it happened that they 
occurred simultaneously with the despatch of 
Drucour's defiant message, we need not inquire too 
curiously. Drucour listened to reason, and a second 
messenger was sent to bring back the first. As 
Parkman suggests, it is evident the first was in no 
hurry to deliver the momentous note, for he had 
scarcely got beyond the fortifications when he was 
overtaken. Within the half-hour the English terms 
had been accepted and by midnight the articles of 
capitulation involving the fate of the whole Island 
of Cape Breton and other places had been signed. 
The British took possession of Louisbourg on the 
27th July. The first of the series of heavy blows which 
were to drive the Bourbon colours from Canada had 
been delivered, and in its delivery the hand that 
was to direct the decisive if not the final blow was 
at least as conspicuous as that of the General himself. 
The advantages of combined operations were fully 
borne in upon Wolfe by Louisbourg. " The Admiral 
and General," he wrote to Lord George Sackville, 
" have carried a public service with great harmony, 

industry and union. Mr. Boscawen is an 

excellent back hand at a siege." 1 As on Wolfe 
had devolved so much of the hard work of invest- 
ment, so now he was called upon to see that order 
1 His, MSS. Com. IX, iii, p. 76, 


was preserved so far as was possible after the trying 
ordeal to both sides of the past seven weeks. He 
posted sentinels on the ramparts whilst Brigadier 
Whitmore received the surrender of arms and colours 
on the esplanade from between five and six thousand 
men. In a note to his mother, the first he had written 
home since the siege began, Wolfe said he had been 
into Louisbourg to pay his " devoirs " to the ladies. 
They were pale and thin and had been heartily 
frightened but no real harm had befallen any. To 
his father he expressed a hope that " there will be 
fine weather enough for another blow " — he was 
thinking of Quebec — and to his uncle Walter he wrote 
at some length in the same characteristically critical 
spirit that marked his letter to Rickson. 1 The 
" attempt " to land was " rash and ill-advised " and 
succeeded only by " the greatest of good fortune 
imaginable." The operations, he said, were " slow 
and injudicious." The Indians he speaks of as 
" contemptible canaille — a dastardly set of bloody 
rascals. We cut them to pieces whenever we found 
them in return for a thousand acts of cruelty and 
barbarity. I do not penetrate our General's inten- 
tions. If he means to attack Quebec he must not 
lose a moment." 

Barely was Louisbourg in British hands before news Ticonde- 
arrived which chastened the joy of the victors, and roga. 
to some extent tempered the bitter reflections of the 
vanquished. Abercromby had been beaten at 
Ticonderoga by Montcalm, and among those whose 
lives had been sacrificed was the gallant young Howe, 
" the noblest Englishman that has appeared in my 
time," said Wolfe, " and the best soldier in the army. 

1 Ante, p. 112, 


Heavens ! what a loss to the country : the bravest, 
worthiest, and most intelligent man among us." In 
the midst of getting off prisoners to England and 
disposing of the innumerable details which demanded 
his attention, Amherst had to decide what he would 
do next. How could he best help Abercromby ? 
Should he take ship at once to the south with 
reinforcements, or should he try to draw Montcalm 
off by an expedition up the River St. Lawrence in 
fulfilment of the original intention of the campaign ? 
He was deliberate as usual, much to Wolfe's annoy- 
ance. " We are gathering strawberries and other 
wild fruits of the country with a seeming indifference 
about what is doing in other parts of the world," he 
wrote impatiently on August 7th, and he pressed 
Amherst for some hint of his intentions. Amherst 
was undecided ; the Admiral and he were of opinion 
that they could not go to Quebec but must do some- 
thing in General Abercromby's favour ; so they 
advertised for pilots to go up the St. Lawrence, * where 
they had little intention of even attempting to go. 
Wolfe wrote to Amherst on August 8th a letter which, 
to say the least, was not wanting in directness — 

Wolfe to " Au accounts agree that General Abercromby's army is 

Amherst. cu ^ deep, and all the last advices from those parts trace the 
bloody steps of those scoundrels, the Indians. As an English- 
man, I cannot see these things without the utmost horror 
and concern. We all know how little the Americans are to 
be trusted ; by this time, perhaps, our troops are left to 
defend themselves, after losing the best of our officers. If 
the Admiral will not carry us to Quebec, reinforcements 
should certainly be sent to the continent without losing a 
moment's time. The companies of Rangers, and the Light 
Infantry, would be extremely useful at this juncture ; whereas 
here they are perfectly idle, and, like the rest, of no manner 
of service to the public. If Lawrence has any objection to 

1 Amherst (Correspondence of Pitt, vol. i, p, 313). 


going I am ready to embark with four or five battalions, and 
will hasten to the assistance of our countrymen. I wish we 
were allowed to address the Admiral, or I wish you yourself, 

Sir, would do it in form. This d d French garrison takes 

up our time and attention, which might be better bestowed 
upon the interesting affairs of the continent. The transports 
are ready, and a small convoy would carry a brigade to Boston 
or New York. With the rest of the troops we might make 
an offensive and a destructive war in the Bay of Fundy and 
in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. I beg pardon for this freedom, 
but I cannot look coolly upon the bloody inroads of those 
hell-hounds the Canadians ; and if nothing further is to be 
done, I must desire leave to quit the army." 

General Amherst took this strong language in good The future 
part, explained that it was his original intention to of America, 
go to Quebec, but that events now seemed to make it 
advisable to go to Abercromby, to send five or six 
battalions to the Bay of Fundy, and another force 
to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. He invited Wolfe to 
propound any scheme which might assist matters. 
Such communication, he said, " will be of much more 
service than your thoughts of quitting the army which 
I can by no means agree to, as all my thoughts and 
wishes are confined at present to pursuing our 
operations for the good of his Majesty's service, and 
I know nothing that can tend more to it than your 
assisting in it." Wolfe soon learned that he was to 
command three regiments which were to be sent with 
a fleet under Sir Charles Hardy to Gaspe and other 
places in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to destroy French 
stores, drive out the settlers, and incidentally induce 
a belief that Quebec was to be attacked. Whilst 
preparing for the expedition, which Wolfe regarded 
with some contempt as one to " rob fishermen of 
their nets," he wrote a letter to his mother which 
gave her his view as to the character of the British 
possessions in America and the climate of " this fine 


continent." He foreshadowed the time when it 
would be "a vast Empire, the seat of power and 
learning. Nature has refused them nothing, and 
there will grow a people out of our little spot England 
that will fill this vast space and divide this great 
portion of the globe with the Spaniards who are 
possessed of the other half." A little luck and the 
sparing of " that great man " — Lord Howe — "would 
have already laid the corner stone of this great fabric. 
It is my humble opinion that the French name 
would soon have been unknown in North America, 
and still may be rooted out if our Government will 
follow the blows they have given and prosecute 
the war with the vigour it requires." 
A great The expedition to the Gulf of St. Lawrence set out 

de . al 5? , on the 28th August ; it anchored off Gaspe" on the 
5th September, and was back at Louisbourg again 
on the 29th. Wolfe reported to General Abercromby, 
to Pitt and to Amherst. His letter to Pitt 1 is an 
admirable summary of the operations conducted by 
the fleet and detachments of the army against the 
settlements at Gaspe, Baye de Chaleurs, and Mira- 
michi. Wolfe was anxious to go much further than 
Sir Charles Hardy cared to take his fleet at that 
season. They captured a sloop with passengers from 
Quebec and learnt that great scarcity of provisions 
and distress prevailed in the city ; " that (although 
the magazines for the army were full and the best 
harvest for many years) bread sold at a shilling a 
pound ; that both the troops and the inhabitants 
had been reduced in the winter to eat horseflesh and 
that the colony must be ruined unless very early and 
very powerful assistance were given." Wolfe added 
1 Correspondence, vol. i, p. 379, 


that as the British found no enemy in a condition to 
oppose them they could add nothing to the reputation 
of His Majesty's arms. They had destroyed the 
fishery, " a material article of subsistence to the 
Canadians." He could not conceal his disgust. " All 
their houses, stages, magazines, shallops, nets, stores, 
and provisions are burnt, one hundred and forty of 
the inhabitants brought off, and the rest of these 
miserable poeple will in all probability be forced to 
abandon their settlements and retire to Quebec." 
Early next summer, he said, forty ships were expected 
in the River St. Lawrence with provisions, stores, 
etc. Having thus done " a great deal of mischief," 
as he said to Amherst, Wolfe took note of what was 
happening elsewhere. 

Amherst had gone to Abercromby with 3,000 To relieve 
men, but Abercromby with four times that number ^™L 
already had done nothing beyond entrenching 
himself and quietly exchanging " his former role of 
an irresistible invader of Canada to that of the 
defender of a threatened frontier." x The solitary 
piece of news after Wolfe's own heart which had come 
to hand was of Bradstreet's daring seizure of 
Frontenac with a small force which he had induced 
Abercromby to give him. It was a master-stroke 
and commanded Wolfe's admiration. " An offensive 
daring kind of war," he told Amherst, " will awe the 
Indians and ruin the French. Blockhouses and a 
trembling defensive, encourage the meanest scoundrels 
to attack us. . . . If you will attempt to cut up 
New France by the roots I will come back with 
pleasure to assist." Meantime he was preparing to 
return to England apparently in the hope that he 

1 Fight with France for North America, p. 261. 


would be employed on the continent. To Lord 
George Sackville he said that he thought the English 
Ministry did not understand the value of the Isle of 
Aix. He undertook, if they would give him 4,000 
men, a good quantity of artillery, fascines and sand- 
bags to establish himself so effectually that the French 
would exchange Minorca or anything to get him out. l 
A mysterious letter of Wolfe's, written on the 
6th June, 1759, and preserved in the Public Record 
Office, seems to throw some light on the personal side 
of affairs at this time. It is addressed to a peer whose 
identity is uncertain and runs — 

" My Lord, 

" I have had the honour to receive two letters from your 
Lordship, one concerning my stay in this country to which 
I shall only say that the Marshal told me I was to return at 
the end of the Campaign, and as General Amherst had no 
other Commands than to send me to winter at Halifax under 
the orders of an officer [Governor Lawrence ( 8 )], who was but 
a few months put over my head, I thought it was much better 
to get into the way of service and out of the way of being 
insulted, and as the style of your Lordship's letter is pretty 
strong I must take the liberty to inform you that though 
I should have been very glad to have gone with G. Amherst 
to join the army upon the Lakes, and offered my services 
immediately after the reduction of Louisbourg to carry a 
reinforcement to Mr. Abercromby if Quebec was not to be 
attacked ; yet rather than receive orders in the Government 
[of Nova Scotia] from an officer younger than myself (though 
a very worthy man) I should certainly have desired leave to 
resign my commission for as I neither ask nor expect any 
favour, so I never intend to submit to any ill-usage 

From which one thing is clear : that it was proposed 
to reward Wolfe's services by supercession and that 
Wolfe would not submit to it. Was Amherst, who 
was anxious he should remain, in any way responsible ? 

1 His. MSS. Com. IX, iii, p. 77. 

( 2 ) Parkman : Montcalm and Wolfe, vol. ii, p. 202. 



Wolfe, to be known for a while, until a greater A great 
achievement eclipsed his Cape Breton performances, y ear - 
as the hero of Louisbourg, came back to England 
with Admiral Boscawen in the Namur. The country 
rejoiced, and Parliament voted its cordial thanks to 
the Admiral and General Amherst. Wolfe's portion 
was something approaching hero-worship : everybody 
knew what he had done ; everybody seemed to be 
singing his praises ; and the only person who seemed 
unconscious that he was a hero was — himself. When 
he reached Portsmouth on the 1st November, he went 
straight to Salisbury to join the 67th Regiment whose 
Colonel he now was, there to await leave to repair to 
town. Leave came in a few days ; he was at Black- 
heath on the 17th writing to his uncle Walter : "I 
wish I could say that my health was such as a soldier 
should have. Long passages and foggy weather have 
left their natural effects upon me. The people here 
say I look well. No care shall be wanting to get 
ready for the next campaign. They can propose no 
service to me that I shall refuse to undertake unless 
where capacity is short of the task." The next 
campaign ! Pitt was already busy with plans for 
1759. The year now drawing to a close had gone 
splendidly for England. The French coast had 
suffered severely from British expeditions ; French 
fleets had been held in check or crushed altogether 



by Hawke and Osborn ; Pitt had rendered Frederick 
invaluable service by his subsidies and Prince 
Ferdinand had been appointed to command the 
British Hanoverian forces in place of the Duke of 
Cumberland ; Fort St. Louis in Senegal and the 
Island of Goree had been captured ; the Isle of Cape 
Breton was British ; Bradstreet had by his one 
brilliant stroke neutralised Montcalm's victory at 
Ticonderoga and made the way easier for Forbes to 
capture Duquesne, as he did in November, renaming 
it Fort Pitt, to become in time that hive of industry, 
Pittsburg. Pitt had no reason to be dissatisfied 
with his work in 1758, qualified though it might 
be by Ticonderoga and one or two smaller 
An With genuine concern Wolfe learned that Pitt had 

annoying intended to continue him on service in America. He 
wrote at once to the Minister explaining that it was 
understood by Lord Ligonier, the Commander-in- 
Chief and Amherst, that from the condition of his 
health and other circumstances, he would return to 
England at the end of the campaign. The discovery 
was particularly annoying because none had been so 
anxious as he to carry the campaign to the St. 
Lawrence. " I take the freedom," he said to Pitt, 
" to acquaint you that I have no objection to serving 
in America and particularly in the River St. Lawrence 
if any operations are to be carried on there. The 
favour I ask is only to be allowed a sufficient time to 
repair the injury done to my constitution by the 
long confinement at sea, that I may be the better 
able to go through the business of the next summer." 
Back again at Salisbury he wrote to his friend 
Rickson a long letter in which he reiterated many 



of the points as to Louisbourg familiar in other 
letters. The British force in America, he said, " was 
so superior to the enemy's that we might have hoped 
for greater success. But it pleased the Disposer of 
all things to check our presumption by permitting 
Mr. Abercromby to hurry on that precipitate attack 
on Ticonderoga." He expected to hear any day that 
a new attempt had been made, " and I can't flatter 
myself that they have succeeded, not from any idea 
of the Marquis de Montcalm's abilities, but from a 
very poor opinion of our own." As for himself, he 
added, he had signified to Mr. Pitt that he might 
" dispose of my slight carcass as he pleases, and that 
I am ready for any undertaking within the reach and 
compass of my skill and cunning. I am in a very bad 
condition both with the gravel and rheumatism, but 
I had much rather die than decline any kind of service 
that offers. If I followed my own taste, it would 
lead me into Germany ; and if my poor talent was 
consulted, they would place me in the cavalry, because 
nature has given me good eyes, and a warmth of 
temper to follow the first impressions. However, it 
is not our part to choose, but to obey. My opinion 
is, that I shall join the army in America, where, if 
fortune favours our force and best endeavours, we 
may hope to triumph." 

Wolfe watched events in Germany the more closely Wolfe as 
because his old Regiment was doing excellent work disciplina- 
with Prince Ferdinand — an earnest of better things nan * 
to come when Kingsley's men should cover themselves 
with glory at Minden. He told one of his old captains 
how pleased he was that the discipline they had 
helped to establish was producing " the natural effects 
whenever it comes to the proof." The Prince's 

10 — (2213) 



abilities he rated very high. " It is my fortune to be 
cursed with American service ; yours to serve in an 
army commanded by a great and able prince where 
I would have been if my choice and inclinations had 
been consulted." During the short time spent with 
the 67th, he seems to have left the same impression 
on its discipline that he left on the 20th. The greatest 
compliment was paid to its abiding influence some 
years later, when a Russian General asked leave to 
borrow two or three privates in order to drill his own 
men in the way of the 67th. Major Campbell then 
in command said the only merit due to himself was 
the attention and strictness with which he had 
followed the system introduced by Wolfe. x 

For the benefit of his health, Wolfe went to Bath 
Quebec on the 7th December, and a week or ten days later 
command, received a summons to London from Pitt. The great 
Minister and the young soldier both had Quebec in 
mind, but with the difference that whilst Wolfe had 
urged the importance of an expedition to the St. 
Lawrence in which he might serve under another, 
Pitt had decided that Wolfe himself was to command 
that most hazardous portion of a new tripartite 
campaign. Only a Pitt would have dared propose 
for such an enterprise a soldier whose very age was 
not equal to the length of other veterans' services. 
Pitt knew his man. After the interview Wolfe kept 
his own counsel, though naturally rumours of 
important developments were soon afloat. Even to 
his old friend Warde he did not divulge the facts when 
he wrote on the 20th December to ask if he might 
mention Warde's name for distant, difficult, and 

1 Memoirs of Sir James Campbell of Ardkinglass, quoted 
by Wright, p. 470. 


disagreeable service such as would make a call on all 
his skill and abilities. " If the employment of 
Adjutant-General or perhaps of Quartermaster to a 
very hazardous enterprise be to your taste, there are 
people who would be extremely glad of your assist- 
ance. There is no immediate advantage arising from 
it. That of being useful to the public at the expense 
of your health and constitution is a recommendation 
that cannot be strongly urged. " Warde was ready to 
serve under his whilom playmate of Squerryes, but 
anticipated opposition in certain quarters. His 
willingness to fall in with Wolfe's suggestion is clear 
from Wolfe's reply that his " readiness " encouraged 
him to hope their united efforts might be useful and 
that he would desire to be excused from these Wh did 
" dangerous honours " if he could not have his own George 
men. For some reason Warde did not go to Quebec W arde n °t 
with Wolfe. That reason must have been ample — J 
more ample than Mr. Bradley suggests when he says 
that " Warde in spite of his sincere regard for his 
friend, not unnaturally as a horse soldier, preferred 
the battlefields of Europe, whither he was shortly 
sent, to the siege of an American fortress, howsoever 
important. ' ' x Perhaps Warde's inclinations combined 
with official objections to determine the matter. 
There is no ground for suggesting that Warde volun- 
tarily rejected an offer on his acceptance of which 
Wolfe set so high a value. Wolfe told " the leading 
men " that if they charged a young soldier with 
weighty responsibilities they must give him the best 
assistance. He knew in which direction to look for 
such assistance. He had another friend in mind — 
Guy Carleton. It was unfortunate that Carleton was 
1 Wolfe, p. 131. 





out of favour with the king. He had spoken dis- 
respectfully of the Hanoverians, and the king punished 
him. He refused him permission to join Wolfe at 
Louisbourg, and now when Wolfe included Carleton's 
name in his staff it was struck out by the royal quill. 
But Wolfe was as firm on the one side as the king on 
the other. After Louisbourg he expressed the view 
that if Carleton had been there the business might 
have been much expedited. " So much depends upon 
the abilities of individuals in war that there cannot 
be too great care taken in the choice of men for the 
different offices of trust and importance." 1 He 
was determined to have his own men now, and it 
was only after a strenuous fight against the king's 
prejudices, during which Pitt strongly urged Wolfe's 
claim, and Lord Ligonier had several animated 
audiences in support of it, that Carleton was included 
as Quartermaster-General. As Pitt said, to refuse 
compliance with the General's request was to make 
it impossible to hold him responsible if he should 

Wolfe made more than one exceptional appoint- 
ment ; he had as sharp an eye for merit as had Pitt 
in selecting himself. His three Brigadiers were to be 
Robert Monckton, son of Viscount Galway, who had 
seen service in Germany, Flanders, and America ; 
George Townshend, eldest son of Viscount Townshend ; 
and James Murray, son of Lord Eli bank in whose 
capacity for command Wolfe had the greatest 
confidence. Townshend was not one of Wolfe's men. 
In temperament they were unlike, and Townshend had 

1 Letter to Lord G. Sackville. 
p. 76. 

His. MSS. Com, IX, iii, 


possibly been spoiled by admiring friends. His 
appointment is generally said to have been the direct 
result of social influence. He held an immoderate 
idea of the claims of birth over abilitiy ; if that idea 
could have been eliminated, such is the impression 
conveyed, he would have made a better colleague. 
What his critics said, Horace Walpole summarised in 
a caustic sentence : "A very particular young man 
who with much address, some honour, no knowledge, 
great fickleness, greater want of judgment, and with 
still more disposition to ridicule, had promised once 
or twice to make a good speaker." In Walpole's 
view, after the appointment, Townshend, so far as 
wrong-headedness went, was " very proper for a 
hero." Townshend's shortcomings are easy to detect ; 
if we respect him only in the degree to which he loved 
Wolfe he will not command much esteem, but he was 
a good soldier and if Wolfe had not been assured on 
that side Townshend would never have formed one 
of his staff. Wolfe would not have taken the risk. 
To suggest that he would have allowed social claims 
to over-ride professional considerations is to reflect 
sharply on himself. Wolfe's difficulties were indi- 
cated in a letter to Major Alexander Murray, whom 
he wished to serve. He was opposed by " a torrent 
of family interest " which tended to bear down 
justice itself. But the most careful reading between 
the lines of Townshend's life lends little colour to the 
suggestions of his enemies. Townshend had seen 
service as Wolfe had at Dettingen and Laffeldt and 
Culloden, and after the fall of Louisbourg he wrote 
to Pitt to ask to be employed in some expedition 
against France. Lord Ligonier mentioned the matter 
to the King and the letter Townshend received from 


Wolfe hardly bears out Walpole's too ready 
depreciation — 

"To Colonel the Honble. George Townshend. ( x ) 

" Sir,— 

" 1 came to town last night and found the letter you 
have done me the honour to write. Your name was mentioned 
to me by the Mareschal, and my answer was that such an 
example in a person of your rank and character could not 
but have the best effects upon the troops in America, and 
indeed upon the whole military part of the nation ; and I 
took the freedom to add that what might be wanting in 
experience was amply made up in an extent of capacity and 
activity of mind, that would find nothing difficult in our 
business. I am to thank you for the good opinion you have 
entertained of me and for the manner in which you have 
taken occasion to express your favourable sentiments. I 
persuade myself that we shall concur heartily for the public 
service — the operation in question will require our united 
efforts and the utmost exertion of every man's spirit and 

"I conclude we are to sail with Mr. Saunders' squadron. 
Till then you do what is most agreeable to yourself. If I 
hear anything that concerns you to know, be assured of the 
earliest intelligence. 

" I have the honour to be with the highest esteem, Sir, your 
"Most obedient and faithful humble servant, 

London, 6th Jan., 1759." 

" J. Wolfe. 

Miss After his interview with Pitt, Wolfe went back to 

Lowther. g^ to recru it ms health, to mature his plans, and 
to enter on a campaign of another sort. His precise 
relations with Miss Katherine Lowther, the sister of 
Sir James Lowther, who was to become first Earl of 
Lonsdale, must be left to the imagination, 2 Clues 

(*) Military Life of George Townshend, p. 143. 

* Thackeray's account in The Virginians of Wolfe's love 
for Miss Lowther is purely imaginary if it be true that there 
was no engagement till the winter of 1758-9. 


followed up by ardent desire to know all that is 
possible of everything affecting James Wolfe have 
yielded little. We may conjure up any idyllic story 
we choose of the second surrender of this brilliant, 
high souled, ailing young warrior just appointed to 
the command of an expedition of world-wide signifi- 
cance, taking to heart a woman of whom it was said 
that rank and large fortune were among her least 
recommendations. All that is certain is that she now 
entered definitely into Wolfe's life, but no tangible 
evidence to that effect is forthcoming until the fateful 
day which gave Great Britain a new dominion and 
cost her one of her noblest sons. 

Whatever the facts may be, Wolfe can have had Plan of 
little time for the duties of suitor nor opportunity for campaign 
that perfect rest which he sought. Pitt would have 
given him plenty to keep him busy. The Secretary 
of State's letter to Amherst, who had succeeded 
Abercromby as Commander-in-Chief in America, 
announced Wolfe's appointment as Major-General for 
purposes of the American campaign. Amherst 
himself was to command an expedition which was to 
make its way by Ticonderoga and Crown Point to the 
St. Lawrence, Montreal, and Quebec, a third expedi- 
tion advancing via Niagara. Forbes would have 
commanded the last, but the Duquesne Campaign 
had left him a complete physical wreck and Brigadier 
Prideaux was appointed in his stead. Amherst was 
instructed at great length as to the steps he was to 
take in preparation for Wolfe's arrival at Louisbourg 
in April or early in May. Pitt's letter was a masterly 
guide to the means by which a great end was to be 
accomplished. * It left to the initiative of the man 

1 Correspondence of Pitt, vol. i, p. 432-442. 



and public 

on the spot only those things which the responsible 
Minister could not possibly determine. Wolfe's 
commission was signed on the 12th January, 1759. 
The local character of that commission, which meant 
that he was plain Colonel Wolfe at home, Major- 
General in America, and until he should join hands 
with Amherst, Commander-in-Chief on the St. 
Lawrence, involved embarrassing financial con- 
siderations. Amherst, as Commander-in-Chief in 
fact, received £10 a day and £1,000 for expenses, but 
Wolfe, as a practically independent commander for 
some time to come with equal claims upon his purse, 
received £2 a day and no allowance for expenses. It 
was of course ludicrously inadequate and he told 
Lord Barrington, the Secretary for War, that he 
would have to borrow from his father unless some 
allowance from the public purse were made. Lord 
Barrington reassured him. Representations were 
made to the King, £500 was granted without demur, 
and more was promised if it should be necessary. 
Munificent treatment for one on whom the fate of an 
Empire hung ! Economy there must be somewhere — 
such was the plea : then why not economise in regard 
to essential public enterprises whilst unessential 
workers grew fat at the public expense ? In view 
of what happened when officialism was called upon 
to make pecuniary acknowledgment of Wolfe's 
inestimable service in the days to come, one can but 
recognise the generosity shown in anticipation. Pitt 
himself was so superior to considerations of hard cash 
that he certainly would have made no attempt to 
gauge Wolfe's worth in pounds, shillings and pence. 
Wolfe's services, like his own, were patriotically 
speaking priceless. 


Nor did Wolfe complain, though he must have been Wolfe's 
conscious that he was expected to do the big job of modesty, 
the campaign on slender resources. He said he 
thought £500 would be ample. What he wanted 
now as ever was to be left free to do the work in hand 
without having to bother about immediate ways and 
means. Love is not the only thing which flies out 
when poverty enters, and a nature such as Wolfe's 
would worry more about inability to discharge a 
small debt than about failure to compete successfully 
with less able men in the acquisition of material 
gains. Lord Barrington may well have been 
" touched " by his modesty : it was a quality little 
in evidence among the placemen of the eighteenth 
century. If Wolfe knew that his own abilities were 
a good deal in advance of those of many of the 
leading military men with whom he was brought in 
contact, he regarded the fact more in sorrow than 
in pride. On the 29th January, he wrote to his 
uncle Walter : "I am to act a greater part in this 
business than I wish or desire. The backwardness of 
some of the leading officers has in some measure forced 
the Government to go so low. I shall do my best 
and leave the rest to fortune as perforce we must 
when there are not the most commanding abilities. 
... If I have health and constitution enough for the 
campaign I shall think myself a lucky man ; what 
happens afterwards is not of great consequence." 

Two anecdotes recorded of Wolfe in the interval Misunder- 
between his appointment and his sailing again for ** ood ^7 
America are eloquent of the average politician's ticians. 
inability to understand him. Pitt's nominal chief, 
Newcastle, took occasion to inform the King that 
Wolfe was mad. The King replied : " Mad, is he ? 


Then I hope he will bite some of my generals." 
George II was a soldier and prepared to take the 
consequences of any amount of such madness. The 
other story had its origin, not in stupidity, but in a 
quality less amiable. It relates to a little dinner 
given by Pitt to Wolfe on the eve of his departure. 
Lord Temple was the only other guest. " As the 
evening advanced Wolfe, heated perhaps by his own 
aspiring thoughts and the unwonted society of 
statesmen, broke forth into a strain of gasconade 
and bravado. He drew his sword, he rapped the 
table with it, he flourished it round the room, he 
talked of the mighty things which that sword was 
to achieve. The two ministers sat aghast at an 
exhibition so unusual from any man of real sense and 
real spirit. And when at last Wolfe had taken his 
leave, and his carriage was heard to roll from the 
door, Pitt seemed for the moment shaken in the high 
opinion which his deliberate judgment had formed 
of Wolfe ; he lifted up his eyes and arms and 
exclaimed to Lord Temple : ' Good God ! That I 
should have entrusted the fate of the country and 
the administration to such hands.' "* In order to 
allow Wolfe no chance of escape, we are solemnly 
told that he was none the worse for wine. This 
absurd story I have seen illustrated in popular 
works in order, I suppose, to enable the people of 
England the better to estimate so fine a specimen of 
transpontine military swagger. Wright chivalrously 
examines the evidence at considerable length in 
disproof of the story. 2 Its real disproof is the 
character of the chief witness and the character of 

1 Mahon's History of England, vol. iv, p. 228. 
* Life of Wolfe, pp. 483-487. 


Wolfe himself. Two sentences from the brief note 
to his mother in which he sought to avoid " the 
formality of leave-taking " proclaim the man : "I 
shall carry this business through with my best 
abilities. The rest you know is in the hands of 
Providence, to whose care I hope your good life and 
conduct will recommend your son." 

A fleet of sixty transports, six sail of the line and Pitt's 
nine frigates, sailed from Portsmouth under Rear- anticipa- 
Admiral Holmes in the middle of February to be 
followed on the 17th by a squadron under Admiral 
Saunders, who was to command the fleet in the St. 
Lawrence. Wolfe was with the Admiral on board 
the Neptune, which carried ninety guns. Weather 
was against the precise ordering of events as usual. 
Wolfe intended to make straight for Louisbourg, but 
the harbour was ice-bound, and the Neptune went 
instead to Halifax. They put into port ten days 
later than was originally contemplated. In America, 
Admiral Durell had been energetically advancing 
preparations on the naval side, and Amherst, 
Lawrence, and others had been hard at work on the 
military. Pitt's instructions were that Amherst was 
to have all ready for Wolfe to start from Louisbourg 
by the 12th May, but it was some days later than that 
before the fleet could even move from Halifax to 
Louisbourg. Amherst was to hurry up with his own 
arrangements so that operations might begin by the 
1st. If Amherst were moving by the beginning 
of May he would possibly make the way easier for 
Wolfe at Quebec, and when Wolfe attacked Quebec 
forces would certainly be drawn from elsewhere. 
They would thus be mutually helpful. It has been 
said that Pitt never anticipated that Wolfe would 


capture Quebec without the immediate co-operation 
of Amherst, who it was hoped would arrive on the 
St. Lawrence in the course of the summer. Secret 
instructions issued to Wolfe make it clear that Pitt 
foresaw the possibility of Wolfe's success before he 
got into touch with Amherst. He was given general 
directions as to what he should do "in case by the 
Blessing of God upon our arms " he should make 
himself master of Quebec ; " ulterior operations " were 
left to his and Saunders' discretion. x 
The According to Pitt's calculations, Wolfe was to 

strength of commanc i 12,000 men, but when the number 
the Army. ' 

assembled at Louisbourg was totalled, it was found 

that there were only 8,635, or less than 75 per cent. 

of the number Pitt intended. As Wolfe was originally 

of opinion that 12,000 would not be a sufficient force, 

the actual numbers with which he embarked on this 

great enterprise were barely half what he would have 

taken if he could. Writing to Pitt from Halifax 

Harbour the day after he arrived, he expressed his 

satisfaction with what had been done in other 

respects. He pointed out that every man in Canada 

was a soldier. " Our troops are good and very well 

disposed. If valour can make amends for want of 

numbers we shall probably succeed. Any accident 

on the river or sickness among the men might put us 

in some difficulties." Whilst waiting at Halifax he 

drew up various orders for the guidance of the troops 

in circumstances of urgency during the voyage up 

the St. Lawrence, and for the better preservation of the 

men's health whilst on board ship. Personal sorrow 

came to him shortly after he reached Louisbourg : 

his father died at Blackheath on the 26th March, 

1 Doughty, vol. ii, p. 19. 


and the sense of bereavement was intensified by the 
thought of his mother's loneliness. In a letter to his 
uncle from Louisbourg on the 19th May he gave a 
lengthy account of the military and naval position as 
he saw it within a fortnight of his departure for 

" We are ordered to attack Quebec — a very nice operation. 
The fleet consists of twenty-two sail of the line and many 
frigates ; the army of 9,000 men ; — in England it is called 
12,000. We have ten battalions, three companies of Grena- 
diers, some Marines (if the Admiral can spare them), and 
six new-raised companies of North American Rangers — not 
complete, and the worst soldiers in the universe ; a great 
train of artillery, plenty of provisions, tools, and implements 
of all sorts ; three Brigadiers under me, — all men of great 
spirit ; some Colonels of reputation, Carleton for Quarter- 
master-General, and upon whom I chiefly rely for the 
engineering part. Engineers very indifferent, and of little 
experience ; but we have none better. The regular troops 
in Canada consist of eight battalions of old Foot — about 400 
a battalion — and forty companies of Marines (or colony 
troops) — forty men a company. They can gather together 
8,000 or 10,000 Canadians, and perhaps 1,000 Indians. As 
they are attacked by the side of Montreal by an enemy of 
12,000 fighting men [Amherst's force] they must necessarily 
divide their force ; but, as the loss of the capital implies the 
loss of the colony, their chief attention will naturally be there, 
and therefore I reckon we may find at Quebec six battalions, 
some companies of marines, four or five thousand Canadians, 
and some Indians, altogether not much inferior to their 

As a matter of fact, the force with which Montcalm Wolfe's 
opposed Wolfe was some 13,000 or 14,000 strong ; so confidence, 
that numerically Montcalm had a heavy advantage. 
Wolfe explained to his uncle how Rear-Admiral Durell 
had gone up the river with ten sail to cut off succours 
for Quebec — which, unfortunately for the subsequent 
operations, he only partially succeeded in doing — 
and to seize islands where the navigation was most 


dangerous. He was to push with his squadron as 
far up the river as possible " that all might be free 
and open behind." The Commander-in-Chief of the 
fleet Wolfe described as " a zealous brave officer " — 
a just tribute to Admiral Saunders and a proof of the 
excellent relations between the two services. Wolfe 
said : " It is the business of our naval force to be 
masters of the river both above and below the town. 
If I find the enemy is strong, audacious and well 
commanded, I shall proceed with the utmost caution 
and circumspection, giving Mr. Amherst time to use 
his superiority. If they are timid, weak and ignorant, 
we shall push them with more vivacity that we may 
be able before the summer is gone to assist the 
Commander-in-Chief. I reckon we shall have a 
smart action at the passage of the river St. Charles, 
unless we can steal a detachment up the river St. 
Lawrence and land them three, four, five miles or 
more above the town, and get time to entrench so 
strongly that they won't care to attack." Especially 
significant is this last sentence in view of the develop- 
ments of the next three months. It indicates 
Wolfe's original idea. Again, he referred to the army 
under his command as " rather too small for the 
undertaking, but it is well composed." Finally, he 
told his uncle : " You may be assured that I shall 
take all proper care of my own person, unless in case 
of the last importance where it becomes a duty to 
do otherwise. I never put myself unnecessarily into 
the way of danger. Young troops must be encouraged 
at first. What appears hazardous sometimes is really 
not so to people who know the country " — as he had 
proved by the small losses among his own men at 
Louisbourg ten months previously. 


The troops waiting to put to sea were in high spirits, incidental 
Wolfe reviewed them battalion by battalion on shore, difficulties, 
and to an officer's apology for his men's deficiency in 
a new exercise he is said to have made response : 
" Poh ! poh ! new exercise — new fiddlestick ! if 
they are otherwise well disciplined and will fight 
that's all I require of them." Among the novelties 
in the composition of the army was a body of Louis- 
bourg Grenadiers, whom Wolfe had specially formed 
as a recognition of the men's excellent service in the 
previous year's siege. They were commanded by 
Alexander Murray. It was one of Wolfe's happy 
thoughts as had been the formation of the Light 
Infantry for Louisbourg. The army, its shortage 
notwithstanding, was slow in assembling owing to 
fog and the difficulties of transport, and it was the 
first of June when the fleet began to move. For 
nearly a week the sailings of the troopships, com- 
prising seventy-six vessels, seventeen flat-bottomed 
boats, 122 cutters, and thirteen whaleboats, continued. 
" British colours on every French fort, port and 
garrison in America," 1 was the toast in favour with 
the officers, and the men by their shouts and cheers 
as the ships cleared the harbour, echoed the sentiment. 
Wolfe's report to Pitt of the little accidents that had 
delayed departure was sent off from the Neptune on 
the 6th. Several transports had not joined them ; 
some of the companies of Rangers provided by the 
Colonies were very bad ; the camp equipage of three 
regiments was missing ; certain of the Boston Militia 
wanted as pioneers refused an invitation to go : "It 
seldom happens that a New England man prefers 
service to a lazy life," said Wolfe, and money for 
1 Knox : Journal, vol. i, p. 279. 


which he had written to Amherst was not forthcoming. 
" This is one of the first sieges perhaps that ever was 
undertaken without it." But these little troubles 
were incidental. Wolfe's confidence as to the issue 
was complete. " W T e expect to find a good part of 
the force of Canada at Quebec, and we are prepared 
to meet them. Whatever the end is, I flatter myself 
that his Majesty will not be dissatisfied with the 
behaviour of the troops." 



Never did a great country throw away Empire more Quebec's 

recklessly than France in America. History can heroic . 

supply few more striking instances of flaunting 

ambition o'erleaping itself. The St. Lawrence was, 
so far as record tells, hers by discovery ; it was 
certainly hers by right of occupation. Car tier was 
the first European to find his way up the mighty 
river which for hundreds of miles is a veritable arm 
of the sea, and Champlain was the founder of Quebec. 
The great promontory which thrusts " its scarped 
front into the surging torrent " was for a century and 
a half the pivot of French fortunes in North America, 
and for a century and a half has perhaps been the 
most romantic spot in the British Empire. " Here," 
as Parkman said, " clothed in the majesty of solitude, 
breaking the stern poetry of the wilderness, rose the 
cliffs, now rich with heroic memories" 1 — heroic 
memories which belong to France, to Great Britain, 
to the United States of America, memories of 
Frontenac and Montcalm, of Wolfe and Carleton, of 
Montgomery and Arnold. 

When England and France both woke up to French and 
transatlantic possibilities at the end of the sixteenth "^j . 
and beginning of the seventeenth centuries, France, a contrast 
roughly speaking, took the northern and less hos- 
pitable half of the eastern coast of North America, 
and England the southern and generally more 

1 Pioneers of France in the New World, p. 207. 

ii— (3213) 


inviting stretch. Antagonists and rivals as France 
and England were, their very lines of communication 
over-seas crossed. In origin and objects the colonies 
were dissimilar. The English colonies were founded 
now for liberty's sake, now for purposes of agriculture 
and commerce, now for the profits of proprietors or 
to further some royal or patriotic end. The French 
colonies were intended to secure an Empire beyond 
the seas, the monopoly of rich trades such as the fur, 
the conversion of the heathen, incidentally maybe 
to discover the great western water route to the east 
which for so long was believed to exist. The English 
colonies whatever their difficulties and dangers, 
internal or external, prospered ; New France lan- 
guished. Bound in the swaddling clothes of red tape 
made and tied in Paris, limbs that might have been 
healthy and strong were impoverished and dwarfed. 
France sent gallant sons to the St. Lawrence to settle, 
to explore, to fight the wilderness, to become involved 
in native strife ; she sent priests to martyrdom ; and 
she sent soldiers and statesmen on that most heart- 
breaking of all missions — to construct an Empire 
without material resources. Jealous of English 
expansion, she handicapped her own people in 
competition, and, instead of free men, too often 
selected for colonists the sweepings of the streets 
and gaols of her great towns. 
Absolut- Everything was controlled by the King or his 

ism. ministers at a distance of four or five thousand miles ; 

between the despatch and receipt of instructions 
months elapsed and situations changed. A Frontenac 
was the creature of uncompromising absolutism ; 
coureurs de bois, who should have been encouraged, 
were outlawed, and La Salle and other intrepid 


explorers acted in defiance of orders from home. 1 
Yet if orders had been obeyed New France might 
have been saved, La Salle's voyages being mainly 
responsible for the attempt to hem the English 
colonies in between the Alleghanies and the sea. 
New countries cannot, however, be built up without 
enterprise, and the French settlers had not too many 
inspiring and animating examples. The French 
colonial system was nicely calculated to foster 
enterprise in the wrong direction. Fortunes were 
made at the expense of people who had no voice in 
their own affairs. By the middle of the eighteenth 
century, the population of New France, Indians apart, 
did not exceed some eighty to ninety thousand. 
With such a population so ruled, France proposed to 
take possession of a continent, the extent of which 
was unknown and to leave a coast strip to rivals whose 
numbers were as far in excess of her own as was their 

From the first Quebec had been a menace to the The 
English, which as early as 1628 they took measures En S llsh 
to remove. The Kirkes led an English fleet up the Quebec. 
St. Lawrence, did a certain amount of damage, gave 
the habitants a bad fright and retired. Champlain's 
rude fort was not in a condition to withstand serious 
attack. Nor the following year, when the Kirkes 
re-appeared, were the people in a mood for fighting. 
Champlain had difficulty in feeding his tiny garrison 
and defence was not to be thought of. The terms of 
capitulation were made easy and the English flag 
floated over Quebec for the first time in 1629. England 
and France had concluded a peace before the Kirkes 
entered Quebec, and the place should have been 

1 Douglas : Old France in the New World, p. 390 . 


restored immediately. Charles I held it for three 
years against the balance of his Queen's dowry, which 
the French King had not paid. When half a century 
later the great Frontenac became Governor, he sys- 
tematically harried the English settlements at the 
same time that he gave special attention to the 
defences of Quebec. In 1690 the colony of Massa- 
chusetts decided to strike at the city in the name of 
King William. They sent a fleet under Sir William 
Phipps who haughtily demanded that Quebec should 
be surrendered within an hour " upon the peril that 
would ensue." He was met by an equally haughty 
response that the Prince of Orange was a usurper and 
that Frontenac the servant of Louis XIV would 
answer with the mouths of his cannon. Phipps found 
him as good as his word, and after a week's fighting 
by land and water the English, badly battered, 
disappeared once more. During the war of the 
Spanish succession Quebec was to be attacked by 
England and her colonies jointly. An army was to 
march overland from New England, whilst a fleet 
under Sir Hovenden Walker was to co-operate on the 
St. Lawrence. The fleet was unable to navigate the 
river, some battleships and several hundred lives were 
sacrificed, the enterprise was abandoned and the 
overland force was recalled. Phipps and Walker 
succeeded in giving Quebec a sense of security which 
it was to enjoy till Wolfe and Saunders dispelled all 
^ fjiMii> The state of Canada at the time that the campaign 

of 1759 was opened by Amherst and Wolfe was 
pitiable. Neglected by the Mother Country whose 
hands were over full in Europe, battened on by officials 
who made fortunes out of her misery, deficient in food 


BIGOT 149 

supplies and in regular defenders, her councils were 
torn by dissensions between those whom her mis- 
fortunes should have made one. Vaudreuil, a 
Canadian by birth, was governor, Montcalm, com- 
mander-in-chief, Bigot, intendant. Vaudreuil's vanity 
and jealousy, combined with Bigot's colossal venality, 
made the task of the man charged with the military 
defence of the colony one of extraordinary difficulty. 
Poor colony ! the sport of Pompadour and Louis XV 
in Europe, and of Vaudreuil and Bigot in America ! 
Bigot's record as given by Parkman, who devoted 
patient examination to all the documents in French 
and Canadian archives, is almost incredible. * His 
position placed the commerce, the finance and the civil 
administration entirely at his mercy, and trust was 
never more shamelessly abused. With the assistance 
of many accomplices, he bought at an absurdly low 
rate for an establishment run by himself, which came 
to be known as La Frippone, or the Cheat, goods 
belonging to the King and re-sold them to the King 
at more than double the price. When Bigot sent in 
his bills to Paris, Ministers examined them curiously 
and made some sharp reflections which hurt the poor 
sensitive intendant. Minister Berryer seems to have 
seen through his not very subtle practices, but instead 
of insisting on his dismissal, put some very plain 
questions and urged him to give these things his 
serious attention. " What has become of the 
immense quantity of provisions sent to Canada last 
year ? I am forced to conclude that the King's stores 
are set down as consumed from the moment they 
arrive and then sold to his Majesty at exorbitant 
prices. Thus the King buys stores in France, and 
1 Parkman : Montcalm and Wolfe, chap. xrii. 



and Wolfe 
a parallel. 

then buys them again in Canada. I no longer wonder 
at the immense fortunes made in the colony." Well 
might Montcalm, who was instrumental in bringing 
knowledge of Bigot's transactions to the French 
Ministry, exclaim : " What a country ! Here all the 
knaves grow rich and the honest men are ruined." 
Vaudreuil filled a peculiarly perverse role. He hated 
Montcalm and, at whatever risk to the Canada he 
loved, placed every obstacle in his way, denounced 
any miscarriage as due to Montcalm's refusal to take 
his advice, and appropriated credit for every success. 
He held Bigot in high regard and at a time when 
the intendant's malefactions were the most obvious 
thing in Canada, found words in his defence. He 
supported the man who was ruining Canada and 
opposed the one man who might have saved her. 
Yet Vaudreuil was not regarded as a rogue. He was 
rather the high placed tool of rogues. He did not 
share their ill-gotten millions, and when years after 
he and Bigot and the rest were brought to trial in 
France, Vaudreuil was acquitted whilst they were 
subject to heavy penalties. 

What strikes one about the Marquis de Montcalm 
is, allowing for the difference of nationality and 
circumstances, the similarity between his views and 
work, and the record of Wolfe with whom his name 
is indissolubly connected in history. Montcalm was 
born in the Chateau de Candiac near Nimes on the 
29th February, 1712, and after a few years under a 
tutor named Dumas, entered the army at fifteen. 
He seems to have been sufficiently brilliant to make 
M. Dumas anxious that he should do better than he 
did. In a letter to his father, Montcalm set out his 
aims as a young man in explicit terms : ' To be an 


honourable man of good morals, brave, and a 
Christian. To read in moderation ; to know as much 
Greek and Latin as most men of the world ; also the 
four rules of arithmetic, and something of history, 
geography, and French and Latin belles lettres as 
well as to have a taste for the arts and sciences ; to 
be fond of intellectual accuracy if I do not possess it 
myself. And, above all, to be obedient, docile and 
very submissive to your orders, and those of my 
dear mother, and to defer to the advice of M. Dumas. 
To fence and ride as well as my small abilities will 
permit." With Montcalm as with Wolfe a good 
mother's influence was in evidence through life. He 
fought in the war brought about by the struggle for 
the Polish throne between the Elector of Saxony 
and Stanislaus, and whilst in camp learnt German 
and " read more Greek, thanks to my loneliness, than I 
had done for three or four years." At twenty-two 
he married — at about the age when Wolfe was 
passionately in love with Miss Lawson. He fretted 
under inaction as Wolfe did and finding that his 
regiment was to take no part in the war of the 
Austrian succession, he secured himself a special 
appointment. He was as keen for promotion and to 
justify it by efficiency as Wolfe was, and held positions 
in advance of his official rank. Major Wood points 
out that though Montcalm had been more carefully 
educated than Wolfe, both had " that sympathetic 
insight into life which craves expression in the fittest 
words and naturally stimulates a man both to read 
the best in literature and to find a true style for 
himself when he comes to write." * Montcalm's 
letters are as remarkable as Wolfe's, in a literary way 

1 The Fight for Canada, p. 126. 



more remarkable perhaps. When a first-rate officer 
was wanted to command the French forces in Canada, 
the Minister for War recommended Montcalm and 
early in 1756 he was appointed with the Chevalier 
de LeVis as his second in command and M. de 
Bourlamaque third. 
M ^^* lm ' 8 ^ s commission, unhappily for him, was not on 
all fours with that given to Wolfe. He was to be 
commander, with the rank of Major-General, and to 
act under the authority of the Governor-General, 
M. de Vaudreuil ! "As the said Marquis de Montcalm 
is to command only under the Governor's authority 
and be subordinate in all matters, M. de Montcalm 
shall only execute and see that the troops under his 
command execute all the Governor's orders." In 
times of peace, even such warlike peace as existed 
in America, these conditions were necessary to 
civil supremacy, but when war came they were the 
very handcuffs of military efficiency. They cost 
Montcalm many a pang, and it was not until affairs 
in America had reached a most critical stage that 
M. de Vaudreuil, to his infinite chagrin, was told to 
conform in military matters to Montcalm's views. 
Montcalm in America, the Governor's attitude not- 
withstanding, was not long in making his energetic 
and able presence felt on the confines of the British 
Colonies ; Oswego, Fort William Henry, and Ticon- 
deroga were samples of his soldierly enterprise and 
resource. His reputation would stand even higher 
than it does if it were possible wholly to disclaim his 
responsibility for the atrocious misdeeds of his 
Indians. Better have shot down his allies and taken 
the risks it involved than allow the tomahawk to do 
its ghastly work among defenceless men and women. 


Otherwise Montcalm's escutcheon is untarnished. 
His patriotism was high above that of his fellows ; 
he was as clean handed in the very heart of corruption 
as Wolfe or Pitt. Anxious to leave Canada after 
his defeat of Abercromby, he was equally eager, after 
Bradstreet had captured Frontenac, to remain, in 
order to repair the affairs of the colony, or at least 
retard their ruin. " I wish my intentions may be 
seconded," he added significantly. 

Both Montcalm and Vaudreuil sent urgent appeals Appeals to 
to France for help during the latter part of 1758. France. 
Bougainville, one of the envoys, explained to the 
court the desperate plight of the colony and begged 
for men and munitions, for food and for ships to 
hold the entrance of the St. Lawrence. France 
could do little. Her resources were being drained 
in Europe and the British swept the seas. If she 
could have afforded to part with troops and supplies 
she was afraid to send them lest they should be 
captured by the English. Yet she realised that Pitt's 
main effort was directed on America. As Pitt had 
laid his plans to conquer France in Europe by 
defeating her in America, so France decided on one 
bold stroke which might have the effect of saving 
Canada by turning the tables on England within her 
own boundaries. Big fleets were prepared at Havre 
and Brest and Toulon in 1759 with a view to a descent 
in force on England and Ireland. A blow at the very 
heart of the British Empire if not decisive would 
change the whole aspect of the war. There were no 
troops in England capable of meeting a French force 
if it were once landed. The navy saved England 
from this distracting effort. Vigilant as daring, her 
commanders never gave the French fleets a chance 


of concentrating. They were always on hand, 

whatever the conditions of the weather. Boscawen 

resolved the Toulon fleet into its elements oft Lagos ; 

Rodney destroyed every vestige of boat at Havre 

and a large part of the town itself ; Hawke watched 

Conflans at Brest for months and finally disposed 

of him in Quiberon Bay. There is something almost 

uncanny in the unerring instinct which enabled 

British admirals to anticipate the movements of the 

French fleets. They left Wolfe and Saunders free 

to do their great work on the St. Lawrence. 

All Bou- A proper appreciation of the probabilities 

gainville ma de the French Ministers chary of attempting to 
brought. , . , _, • n , i i T-i 

comply with Bougainville s demands. Iney sent, 

however, plenty of advice and instructions. " As 
we must expect the English to turn all their force 
against Canada," wrote Belleisle to Montcalm in 
February, 1759, * " and attack you on several sides 
at once, it is necessary that you limit your plans of 
defence to the most essential points and those most 
closely connected, so that being concentrated within 
a smaller space, each part may be within reach of 
support and succour from the rest. How small soever 
may be the space you are able to hold, it is indis- 
pensable to keep a footing in North America, for if 
we once lose the country entirely its recovery will be 
almost impossible." Montcalm was urged to go to 
almost any extreme rather than submit to conditions 
as shameful as those imposed at Louisbourg, the 
memory of which he was expected to obliterate. 
Montcalm vowed that he would save " this unhappy 
colony " or perish. Bougainville's mission was not 

1 Quoted by Parkman : Montcalm and Wolfe, vol. ii, 
pp. 84-5. 



absolutely wasted. He returned with several vessels 
laden with provisions, an addition to the fighting 
strength of Canada of 326 men, and a generous 
complement of decorations for those who had distin- 
guished themselves in the service of France. He 
reached the St. Lawrence just in time to escape with 
some of his store-ships the attentions of Admiral 
Durell. What he brought was gratefully received, for 
as Montcalm said, " to those who have nothing, a 
little is precious." 

But he brought something more than a few provi- Stupefying 
sions and men and gewgaws and words of advice. 
He brought news of the preparations of Great Britain 
— news of an army and a great fleet, of which the 
advance guard under Durell was already within eighty 
or ninety miles of Quebec. All Canada was stupefied. 
Montcalm hurried to Quebec ordering Bourlamaque 
to make the best stand he could at Ticonderoga 
against Amherst ; the militia were called to the 
defence of the capital, and every able-bodied man 
and youth was pressed into the bearing of arms. 
Vaudreuil as usual blustered and boasted and breathed 
great things. He was not to be scared even though 
the enemy were at every door. x He proclaimed the 
wicked designs of the English — " leur pro jet etant se 
massacrer tout ce qui est Canadienne sans distinction de 
sexe ni d'age." 2 But, he said, Canada would bury her 
children under her ruins before they would surrender ; 
there was no ruse, no zeal, nor resource which patriotic 
ingenuity might suggest that should not be forth- 
coming to ensnare the invader ; what ardour could do 
to defeat the ambitious designs of the English would 

1 Casgrain : Journal du Marquis de Montcalm, p. 534 
a Doughty, vol. ii, p. 48. 


be done. He would hold his ground even to annihila- 
tion. Gasconade of this sort was entirely absent 
from Montcalm, who set about the task of preparing 
for the struggle with soldier-like energy and resource 
and entire loyalty to the wishes of the government 
at home. Vaudreuil obstructed when he should have 
assisted and acted when too late. " Apr&s le mort, 
U medecin," complained Montcalm bitterly. 



Three weeks after leaving Louisbourg Wolfe set eyes Navigating 

for the first time on the frowning fortress in the St. \ he St 

Lei wrcnc^. 

Lawrence whose name is to his what Waterloo is to 
Wellington's, what Trafalgar is to Nelson's. It was 
a time full of incident and excited expectancy. Every 
mile of the gulf and river contained possibilities of 
surprise and disaster. The French fondly believed 
the St. Lawrence was unnavigable by the English 
unaided — a belief in itself a sufficient tribute to the 
hazards run. The Kirkes and Phipps had negotiated 
its currents and its surfs successfully, but Admiral 
Walker had gone to pieces off Anticosti. The 
French by landmarks and watermarks had made 
navigation reasonably safe, but every one of these 
guides had been removed in anticipation of the 
British approach. The voyager to-day who ascends 
the well-lighted and well-marked course can have 
little conception of the anxieties which beset naviga- 
tion in the eighteenth century. Durell with his 
advance squadron had reached the He aux Coudres 
in safety, but Saunders, with a vast collection of 
transports carrying troops on whom everything 
depended, had very different responsibilities. 

The French made their calculations without 
allowance for the wiles and the skill of the British 




Astonishing Durell, by running up the French flag had lured 
lnl£ rencl1 French pilots on board. A most amusing account is 
given by Knox of the fury of these patriotic guides 
compelled to assist the navigation of the English 
ships. One of them raged and swore that the 
English would never get through ; in a few days the 
walls of Quebec would be decorated with their scalps. 
With Vaudreuil, he believed that the English could 
not pass a war-fleet where the French, with 150 years' 
experience of the St. Lawrence, would not dare take 
a vessel of 100 tons burden without the most elaborate 
precautions. The gallant Master of the transport — 
a Trinity House veteran — on which the pilot found 
himself, was doubtful whether the Frenchman might 
not run them into difficulties even at the sacrifice 
of his life. Without a moment's hesitation therefore 
the Master took matters into his own hands, snapped 
his fingers at French menaces, and steered the vessel 
safely through the most treacherous channel known 
as the Traverse. In the hearty style of the British 
tar, he said he knew a thousand worse places in the 
Thames, and he'd convince the pilot, whose storming 
was silenced in sheer amazement, that an Englishman 
would go where a Frenchman dare not show his 
nose. Every now and then he would shout, " Ay, 
ay, my dears, mark it down — ' A damn dangerous 
navigation.' If you do not make a sputter about it 
you will not get credit in England." Whatever he 
might get in England, he got plenty of credit on the 
St. Lawrence. When the pilot learned that the 
Master was a stranger to the river he lifted " his 
hands and eyes to heaven with astonishment and 
fervency." 1 
1 Knox : vol. i. 


Vaudreuil has been blamed for neglecting to occupy Vaudreuil's 
a position at the Traverse from which he could pour neglect, 
shot into the English fleet as it approached ; his 
answer was that he believed the English could never 
pass the Traverse. Bigot endorsed the excuse by 
saying that the enemy made child's play of navigation, 
which to the French was always an anxious business. l 
The Chief Pilot of Quebec said that soundings had 
not been taken for twenty-five years ; when he 
proposed to take them the necessary expenses were 
refused. As the expedition moved up the river the 
soldiers had plenty to interest them apart from the 
risks of navigation : the fine river and the fine 
scenery, the deserted villages and the bonfires which 
heralded the British advance. In the afternoon 
of the 26th June the Island of Orleans was reached. 
As the western end of the island juts its nose out into 
the river right opposite the Quebec headland, it 
might have been thought worth while to make some 
show of defence, but, again by Vaudreuil's orders, the 
1,200 Canadians and Indians who held it, decamped 
and left Wolfe free to land. Everyone was charmed 
with the country, which was well-cultivated and 
homelike. " A bountiful island," said Sergeant 
Johnson. " A most agreeable prospect," said Knox ; 
" windmills, watermills, churches, chapels, compact 
farm houses, all built with stone and covered some 
with wood and some with straw." 

It was not till the following day that Wolfe was Quebec. 
able to get the greater part of his troops on to the 
island, but in the company of his engineer-in-chief, 
Major Mackellar, he hastened to take stock of Quebec 
across the intervening basin. Mackellar, who knew 

1 Doughty, vol. ii, p. 61. 


the city, and had been assiduous in picking up scraps 
of information which enabled him to give the General 
a fairly complete account of its natural and artificial 
defences, had prepared him for the impressive 
spectacle now revealed by his glass. x A city of many 
churches, colleges, and public buildings, perched on 
a magnificent promontory and guarded by batteries, 
it was out of reach of any gun carried by vessels in 
the waters below. At the base of the cliff, on the 
stretch of shore between it and the river was the 
Lower Town, " by much the richest part of the whole, 
being chiefly taken up with the dwellings, warehouses 
and magazines of the principal merchants." At 
Quebec the St. Lawrence narrowed : Quebec 
apparently being a corruption of a native word 
meaning the narrowing of the river. The southern 
bank was formed by another headland called Point 
Levi, whilst immediately to the right of Quebec as 
Wolfe looked at it was the River St. Charles. 
Between the St. Charles and the Montmorency to 
the north of the point on which he stood, was 
Beauport, its church a conspicuous landmark. The 
shore was a series of low-lying cliffs rising to the 
Guarding If Wolfe had not ascertained already he learned 

Charles. now ^ at ^ e wou ld not fight Montcalm in Quebec at 
all. The shore between Quebec and the Montmorency 
Falls was one long line of strongly defended works, 
behind which Montcalm had posted 11,000 or 12,000 
men, 2,000 being left under de Ramesay to look after 
the city. Montcalm was in fact in possession of the 
very ground over which, judging from his letter to his 

1 Mackellar's report is given in full by Doughty, vol. ii, 


uncle, x Wolfe had thought of marching with a view 
to the investment of Quebec. Curiously enough, as 
Wolfe's idea was to attack Quebec by crossing the 
St. Charles, so it was Montcalm's first idea to hold 
the St. Charles, but his second thoughts were 
strategically best. Montcalm realised the danger so 
thoroughly that a vessel was sunk at the mouth of 
the St. Charles lest any attempt should be made to 
utilise it. Had Wolfe been able to throw men across 
that river and attack Quebec from the country — the 
plains of Abraham — between it and the St. Lawrence, 
whilst Saunders kept the enemy busy from the 
Quebec basin, even perhaps got men up the St. 
Lawrence as was ultimately done, the story of the 
siege would have been very different from what it 
was. The question was whether ships could pass 
Quebec, swept as the river was by the French guns. 
With all his spirit and enterprise the Admiral would 
conceivably have refused to incur risks involving not 
only his fleet but the army. Mackellar's conviction 
was that on the land side Quebec's defences were 
weak, and Wolfe's problem was how to get at them. 
Quebec certainly could not be taken from the river 
side. As Mackellar said, the men-of-war could 
annoy, even destroy, the Lower Town, but the 
besieger would be as far as ever from possession of the 
Upper Town. Wolfe's stout heart must have beat 
a little more quickly as he took stock of Quebec, of 
the miles of earthworks, of redoubts and floating 
batteries. Almost unexampled in history, says Mr. 
Doughty, 2 were the activity and determination of 
the defenders of Canada. And how little it availed 
them ! 

1 Ante p. 142. » Vol. ii, p. 28. 

12— (2213) 



Wolfe's By midday on the 27th, Wolfe's army was on the 

proclama- Island of Orleans. On the door of a church was 
found a letter addressed by the local priest to " The 
Worthy Officers of the British Army " asking them 
to protect the church and his house, and regretting 
they had not arrived before the asparagus ran to 
seed. Wolfe on his part drew up a proclamation to 
the Canadians which was translated into French. x I 
give the English version, 2 because the English version 
is what Wolfe actually wrote — 

"By his Excellency James Wolfe, Esq., Colonel of a Regiment 
of Infantry, Major -General and Commander-in-Chief of 
his Britannic Majesty's Forces in the River St. Lawrence, 
"The formidable sea and land armament which the people 
of Canada now behold in the heart of the country, is intended 
by the King, my master, to check the insolence of France, 
to revenge the insults offered to the British colonies and 
totally to deprive the French of their most valuable settlement 
in North America. For these purposes is the formidable 
army under my command intended. The King wages no 
war with the industrious peasant, the sacred orders of religion, 
or the defenceless women and children ; to these in their 
distressful circumstances, his royal clemency offers protection. 
The people may remain unmolested in their lands, inhabit 
their houses and enjoy their religion in security. For these 
inestimable blessings I expect the Canadians will take no 
part in the great contest between the two Crowns. ( 3 ) But if, 
by a vain obstinacy and misguided valour, they presume to 
appear in arms, they must expect the most fatal consequences — 
their habitations destroyed, their sacred temples exposed to 
an exasperated soldier}', their harvest utterly ruined, and the 

1 Mr. Doughty gives the French version, vol. ii, pp. 67-70. 

2 Wright, p. 517. 

( 3 ) The French version contains this important modification 
Je leur promets ma protection, et je les assure qu'ils pourront 

sans craindre les moindres molestations, y jouir de leurs biens, 
suivre le culte de leur religion, en un mot jouir au milieu de 
la guerre de toutes les douceurs de la paix, pourvu qu'ils 
s'engagent a ne prendre directement ou indirectement aucune 
part a une dispute qui ne regarde que les deux Couronnes." 


only passage for relief stopped up by a most formidable fleet. 
In this unhappy situation, and closely attacked by another 
great army, what can the wretched natives expect from 
opposition ? 

' ' The unparalleled barbarities exerted by the French against 
our settlements in America might justify the bitterest revenge 
in the army under my command, but Britain breathes higher 
sentiments of humanity, and listens to the merciful dictates 
of the Christian religion. Yet should you suffer yourselves 
to be deluded by an imaginary prospect of our want of 
success ; should you refuse these terms and persist in opposi- 
tion, then surely will the law of nations justify the waste of 
war, so necessary to crush an ungenerous enemy ; and then, 
the miserable Canadians must in the winter have the mortifica- 
tion of seeing their very families, for whom they have been 
exerting but a fruitless and indiscreet bravery, perish by the 
most dismal want and famine. In this great dilemma let 
the wisdom of the peoples of Canada show itself. Britain 
stretches out a powerful yet merciful hand ; faithful to her 
engagements and ready to secure her in her most valuable 
rights and possessions. France, unable to support Canada, 
deserts her cause at this important crisis, and during the 
whole war has assisted her with troops, who have been 
maintained only by making the natives feel all the weight of 
grievous and lawless oppression. 

"Given at Laurent in the Island of Orleans, this 28th day 
of June, 1759." 

This proclamation had no effect. Wolfe could Loyal 
hardly have looked for any. But it was worth trying. Canadians. 
He had heard much of the discontent among the 
Canadians and there was just a chance that they might 
prefer to remain neutral when not compelled to fight 
for the maintenance of the old regime. It was the 
old story : loyalty to an unnatural mother, if indeed 
that is not too harsh a term, rather than assistance 
to the most benevolent of strangers in arms against 
her. In any case Wolfe's proclamation was a warning 
to civilians not to start irregular warfare : if they 
wanted to fight they must join the fighting lines. 
French historians have said the document reflects 


no honour on its author : a view which is certainly 
Flood and Wolfe had barely got his men on to the Island when 
a storm burst over the St. Lawrence and played havoc 
with much of the shipping. It was so violent that the 
sailors regarded the escape of the fleet as of happy 
augury for the operations about to begin. On the 
night of the 28th they were faced with another peril, 
not this time either wind or water, but fire. Mackellar 
said the French had long since let it be known that 
if an expedition was got up to Quebec they had at 
command an infallible invention for the destruction 
of ships. This " invention " took the form of 
radeaux d feu — or fire-rafts. The idea was to bind 
huge logs of timber together to coat them with in- 
flammable composition, and float them down among 
the shipping, which would soon be in a blaze. That 
something of the sort would be attempted was 
therefore to be expected, and if it were attempted 
successfully, there must have been a bonfire of British 
hopes. Admiral Saunders was on his guard, but the 
sentries on duty on shore were taken unawares. 
Late at night seven of the eight vessels which Bigot 
had purchased from confederates for the good round 
sum of 1,000,000 livres according to Montcalm, were 
floated into mid-stream. Out of the darkness the 
British sentries suddenly detected these ships moving 
silently and stealthily towards them. They lost 
their nerve, and bolted, and for a time there was 
a small panic in the British camp — a panic which led 
to the arrest of the officer in command, whom Wolfe 
subsequently pardoned on account of his excellent 
character. But the General was severe : " Next to 
valour," he said, " the best qualities in a military 


man are vigilance and caution." The British sentries 
were not the only people whose nerves gave out that 
night. The foremost fire-ship was in charge of a 
young officer whose courage and patience evaporated 
as he approached the danger zone. He set light to 
his vessel, loaded as it was with explosives and 
combustibles, prematurely : his action was the signal 
for others, and all except one who saw the mistake 
they were making, applied the torch and sought their 
own safety. The brave fellow who tried to avert the 
miscarriage of the enterprise was sacrificed with two 
companions to the demons of their own creation. A 
lovely starlit night, almost as by magic, was turned 
to an inferno. The flames shot up so brilliantly 
that the stars could not be seen, missiles were hurled in 
every direction, and explosion alternated with the 
hissing of water. The French crowded every building 
and eminence to get a sight of the destruction which 
Vaudreuil and his friends had promised, and the 
British watched the steady approach of the infernal 
machines with anxious eyes. The scene beggars 
description, those who saw it being least able to put 
their sensations into fitting words. Knox says " they 
were certainly the grandest fireworks that could 
possibly be conceived " — awful yet beautiful. * Again 
the French had reckoned without the British 
"sailor man." Across the flame-reflecting water 
rowed boat after boat straight for the burning 
death-dealing monsters. The tars, armed with 
grappling hooks got a grip of the vessels, and, 
heedless of their own peril, beached them all, leaving 
them, mere impotent demons, to fizzle away through 
the night. 

1 Journal, vol. i, p. 298. 


Point Levi. French nerves had a very important bearing not 
only on the fireship stratagem but in other directions. 
Reports reached Vaudreuil and Montcalm that 
Wolfe's army was 20,000 strong and to meet such a 
force they concentrated every available man either 
behind the St. Charles-Montmorency works or in 
Quebec, to the neglect of vital spots elsewhere. One 
was the Point Levi where Montcalm would have 
placed three or four thousand men but for Vaudreuil's 
objections. Wolfe's survey showed him at once that 
if the headland could be secured, he would be able 
to inflict serious damage on Quebec, would at least 
divide command of the river at that point with the 
French batteries, and might induce Montcalm to 
make fresh dispositions from which everything might 
be hoped. Moreover Saunders was alive to the 
danger his fleet might run from an enemy posted on 
Point Levi. 1 On the 29th therefore Monckton's 
brigade and some Light Infantry were ferried across 
the river ; they had a sharp bout with a body of 
Canadians and Indians, who took a dozen scalps and 
one prisoner. The prisoner was sent to Vaudreuil, 
and under cross-examination confirmed Vaudreuil's 
belief that Wolfe intended to attack Beauport. 
Promptly the Governor ordered the men still on Point 
Levi to cross the river to assist in the defence of the 
North Shore and the way was left for Wolfe to begin 
the construction of batteries at Pointe aux Peres just 
to the left of Levi. The work was carried on under 
a galling fire from Quebec. It is strange the French 
should have deluded themselves with the belief that 
Wolfe's guns would not carry into the town. They 
discovered their mistake, when on the 12th Wolfe fired 
1 Wright, p. 517. 


a rocket as a signal to the forty guns and mortars 1 he 
had erected on Point Levi, to open the bombardment. 
Some days before the batteries were complete the 
citizens of Quebec waited upon Vaudreuil with a 
proposal that a volunteer force should attempt to 
re-take a position that ought never to have been 
abandoned. After some demur Vaudreuil assented. 
There were volunteers in plenty, including burghers, 
Indians, youths from the Seminary and regulars, the 
whole amounting to 1,400 or 1,500. They were to 
be led by one of Montcalm's officers, Captain Dumas. 
It was intended to make the attempt on the very night 
that the batteries opened, but after the expedition 
had started the booming and flash of the big guns 
suggested a postponement. The party returned to 
Quebec and waited another twenty-four hours. 2 
Marching to Cap Rouge, the volunteers crossed the 
river and proceeded in two columns, which soon lost 
touch 3 towards the unsuspecting British encamp- 
ment. What they would have accomplished if they 
had ever reached the neighbourhood of the batteries 
may be imagined from what actually happened. The 
first column, while still some three miles distant from 
Levi, were startled by a noise or movement of some 
sort in a wood, took fright, and retreated ; as they 
doubled back they made the second column believe 
the British were upon them. The second column 
fired and the first had just enough spirit left to return 
the volley. Once more the nerves of self-appointed 
heroes proved unequal to the heroic test ; M. Dumas 

1 Bradley : Fight with France, p. 303. 

2 Doughty, vol. ii, p. 101. Parkman (Montcalm and 
Wolfe, vol. ii, p. 225) dates the actual attempt the 12th. 

3 Wood, p. 186. 


found :t impossible to restore order the men — ade 
:':: Tie ::i:5 V-7 tie z:i-.'ir.: :: lintel sleep 
and by six o'clock in ; i - ~ - f : : 
overwhelmed, says Parkman, with despair and shame. 
Within a conple of days, Quebec was crumbling up 
under the fierce storm ; the cathedral and other build- 
ing . burnt out by bursting shells, mar 

re lost, and the non-combatants found the place 
too hot for them, 
v.'c'.fe s AD this as ione under Wolfe's immediate direc- 

sr --* 7 tion ; vet he was not inactive elsewhere. He seemed 

not only " ampfaibioas but ubiquitous. At one 
moment he was with the men on the Island of Orleans, 
at another with those on the south of the 5: 
Lawrence, at a third v. miral Saunders. Body 

and brain rivalled each other in energy, des; 

- indifferent health. He sent an envoy on 

a flag of truce to Yaudreuil to tell him that the town 
would be attacked on behalf of His Britannic Maje; : 
but he hoped that the war would be carried on v 
humanity, and that tie revolting practice of scalp- 
taking would not be permitted. If it were he would 
have no alternative but revenge. The appeal was 
fruitless is '.rere Ami. erst ? :::::: it 7.::r. ier: ri :: 
lessen the horrors of which the native allies of the 
7: ere guilry. To ius troops Wolfe explained 1 

fliat the object of the campaign was to complete the 
conquest of Canada and so finish the war in America ; 
he intended to carry on the operati: os 
loss as possible, and expected his men to work cheer- 
fully and without unsoldierlike complaint. TJffkers 
were warned against surprise and false alarms ; 
"tnertv -5 r.:t :: :e iestr:yei .t:.:_t :rier= 

- r.'-i 


and all persons remaining in their homes were to be 
treated humanely. " If violence be offered to a 
woman the offender shall be punished with death." 
Persons convicted of robbing officers' or soldiers' tents 
would be executed ; there was to be no drunkenness 
or licentiousness, and if rum or spirits of any kind 
were needed by men who were wet or fatigued, 
the general would order the quantities he thought 
good for them. He would be as keen to reward 
distinguished service as to punish misconduct. 

The great event which marked the interval between j^ e Mont, 
the seizure of Point Levi and the opening of the morency 
bombardment was the occupation of the heights to hei e hts « 
the east of the Montmorency. Unable either to put 
his original plan into execution or to get at the enemy 
from the water, Wolfe made careful study of the 
possibility of striking at him from lower down the 
north bank of the river. There had been much 
discussion on the French side as to the wisdom of an 
attack on the Orleans force, which was thought to 
have been seriously depleted in order to make the 
Levi position secure. But it was only one of many 
discussions of which discretion was the invariable 
concomitant. The strategy by which the heights 
east of Montmorency were seized was perfect. On 
the 9th Monckton began to move a considerable body 
of men up the river bank from Point Levi ; simul- 
taneously Saunders sent several vessels in near the 
north shore to open a furious fire upon the section of 
the works held by the Chevalier de Levis near the 
Montmorency, and under cover of these feints 3,000 
men under Murray and Townshend were got over 
during the night from the Island to the north shore. 
Wolfe himself led the way, and the movement was 



Towns - 



accomplished with very small loss, the only opposition 
being a party of Canadians and Indians who were 
driven off. In taking this step Wolfe hoped to draw 
Montcalm to a battle, or if not, then to get at him by 
a ford some way up the Montmorency. In any case 
from the heights of Montmorency he would be able 
to bombard Montcalm's left. He took risks, but 
unless he were to sit down and wait on the Island of 
Orleans whilst Monckton hammered away at Quebec, 
what was he to do but take risks ? If we were to 
take Brigadier Townshend's view Wolfe placed himself 
in jeopardy and neglected the elementary precautions 
of good generalship. 

What had happened to create the atmosphere which 
clearly now existed between the General and his 
second Brigadier ? Had Townshend been too assertive 
for Wolfe's patience ? Had he indulged too freely 
a gift for caricature which offended as often as it 
amused ? It is said that on one occasion Townshend 
made Wolfe his victim at the dinner-table, and Wolfe, 
pocketing the caricature and the affront, said that 
if he lived this matter should be enquired into, but 
first they had to beat the enemy. The business in 
hand did not admit of the immediate adjustment of 
personal differences. Townshend's papers are full 
of complaints of Wolfe's proceedings. When 
Townshend landed on the north shore there was 
nothing to indicate the direction Wolfe had taken ; 
he made a point of finding the baggage of the advance 
body unprotected in the meadows. He stayed to 
collect it and put a guard over it : which Wolfe 
probably considered unnecessary, particularly as it 
involved delay. Then Townshend complained that 
he was not given time to examine certain copses and 


he was dissatisfied with the position Wolfe occupied : 
he said that it placed their front to their friends on 
the Isle of Orleans, their right flank to the enemy 
and a ford between the Falls and the St. Lawrence, 
and exposed them to incursions of savages from woods 
to the rear and fords higher up the Montmorency. 1 
On the face of it there would seem to be something 
in this point, and we learn from French memoirs 2 
that the irregulars with Montcalm were eager to be 
led to the attack, but before anything could be done 
there was the inevitable council of war and nothing 
was done. In his anxiety Townshend fortified his 
camp, so that a night attack was provided against, 
and his biographer says that the breastworks were 
constructed in a way which showed Townshend to be 
far more advanced in his views than Wolfe himself. 
However that may be, Wolfe was not very compli- 
mentary when he saw what Townshend had done. 
He evidently thought that the Brigadier had gone 
beyond the requirements of the case, and said Towns- 
hend had indeed made himself secure for he had 
made a fortress. 3 Townshend's cup came near to 
overflowing when Wolfe removed two of his cannon 
" to grace the park of artillery the General chose to 
ornament his quarters with upon the descent of the 
hill," leaving " our whole right and front without 
any." 4 Wolfe even "rather laughed" at Towns- 
hend's apprehensions when he reported that an 
officer with an escort, who might be Montcalm, had 
been seen examining the British camp. Their 

1 Military Life of Townshend, p. 175. 

2 Parkman : Montcalm and Wolfe, ii, pp. 227-8. 
'■'■ Townshend, p. 177. 

* Ibid., p. 179. 


strained relations resulted a day or two later in a rebuff 
which Townshend himself records. Wolfe had left 
the camp at Montmorency to go over to Orleans 
without giving instructions. Townshend ran after 
him and caught him at the water's edge. 

" He received me in a very stately manner, not advancing 
five steps. I told him that if I had suspected his intention of 
going over I had waited on him for his commands which I 
should be glad to receive and execute to his satisfaction. 
1 Sir,' says he, very drily, ' the Adjutant-General has my 
orders : permit me, Sir, to ask, are the troops to encamp now 
on their new ground, or not do it till the enemy's battery 
begins to play ? ' " 

No word of Wolfe's exists to throw light on this 
purely personal matter, but it is clear that he had 
come to regard Townshend as a pretentious busybody, 
whatever his soldierlike qualities, and was determined 
that only the most formal official relations should 
subsist between them. 
Sea-power Wolfe's forces were now divided into three sections : 
miniature Montmorency, Orleans and Levi. His dispositions 
have been sharply criticised, and the French them- 
selves at times talked of attempting to overwhelm 
him piecemeal. Parkman says : " The left wing of 
his army at Point Levi was six miles from the right 
wing at the cataract and Major Hardy's detachment 
on the Point of Orleans was between them separated 
from each by a wide arm of the St. Lawrence." 1 
Colonel Townshend talks of Wolfe's " error in frit- 
tering away his forces." 2 Such a remark shows that 
Colonel Townshend entirely fails to grip either the 
situation or Wolfe's genius for utilising joint land 
and water opportunities. It is often said that 

1 Parkman : Montcalm and Wolfe, vol. li, p. 229. 
8 Military Life of Townshend, p. 181. 


Saunders' part in the operations has been inadequately 
recognised. Here is surely a case in point. Wolfe 
had the fleet in the Quebec Basin as the connecting 
link between his three camps. In reality they were 
not divided at all, as a recent historian of the Empire 
points out. The Quebec Basin and its south, east 
and north-east shores formed Wolfe's camp. The 
river, " the best of all roads," enabled him, says Mr. 
Pollard, to move his men hither and thither at his 
ease. x It was indeed an object lesson in miniature 
in that sea-power which was being enforced so 
splendidly by Hawke and Boscawen and Rodney in 
European waters. 

If Wolfe took risks, Montcalm took none. His Montcalm 
instructions were to cling to Quebec, whatever else tempted/ 
was surrendered, and he held to his works like a limpet. 
No ruse could tempt him from the position which 
he was confident the British could never take by 
assault, and Wolfe had reluctantly to abandon the 
idea of getting at him from the rear. But what 
Wolfe intended Montcalm never knew. Wolfe's own 
men did not know. He issued orders only to counter- 
mand them ; his plans, so far as proclamation was 
concerned, were changed almost as soon as made. 
These changes coincided remarkably, says Mr. 
Doughty, with the escape of deserters, 2 from whom 
Montcalm learned little : " Deserteurs, verbiage, 
aucune lumie're," was his significant comment. 8 
Wolfe was capable of keeping his own counsel even 
to the mystification of his brigadiers. " Every 
step he takes is wholly his own. I'm told he asks 

1 A. F. Pollard : The British Empire, p. 258. 

a Vol. ii, p. 78. 

• Journal du Marquis de Montcalm, p. 584. 


no one's opinion and wants no advice, and therefore 
as he conducts without an assistant the honour 
or . . . will be in proportion to his success." 1 The 
days went wearily by, and nothing was accomplished. 
" You may demolish Quebec," said a messenger from 
the French camp who had come in under a flag of 
truce. " You will never get inside it." " I will 
take Quebec if I stay here till November," replied 

It was on the 18th July that an event happened 
which had an important bearing on the ultimate 
issue. Saunders tried an experiment. He sent the 
Sutherland with a frigate and some smaller vessels to 
test the possibility of getting up the river beyond 
Quebec. To the amazement of the French, the ships 
got through practically untouched, although Bougain- 
ville and others were quite certain that the batteries 
of Quebec would make any such attempt merely 
quixotic. But then Bougainville had spoken without 
thought that there might be British batteries at 
the Point Levi to lend invaluable assistance. On 
the following day a fleet of boats was dragged over 
Point Levi and launched above Quebec. Montcalm, 
unwilling though he was to part with men, was 
compelled forthwith to send a strong detachment to 
guard the shore between Quebec and Cap Rouge. 
The event was a surprise to both combatants. It 
has induced some wise-after-the-event commentators 
to ask why ships were not sent up the river at first ? 
Major Wood supplies the answer. " The success of the 
experiment by no means proves that Wolfe should 
have gone straight past the town on his arrival. It 
would have been absurdly foolhardy to have run the 

1 James Gibson, quoted by Doughty, ii, p. 112. 


gauntlet of a passage little more [or less (?)] than a 
mile wide with over 100 crowded ships." 1 When 
once Wolfe had boats above Quebec and was able to 
move men on the river, he kept the French in a state 
of nervous anticipation. Carleton on the 20th took 
600 men, according to Parkman, 2 4,000 according to 
the French, 3 eighteen miles above Quebec, made 
a descent on Pointe aux Trembles in the hope of 
capturing persons and papers of importance, and 
decamped with a large number of ladies and a few 
men who had taken up their residence out of the din 
and danger from the batteries. Wolfe entertained 
the ladies at supper, talked to them pleasantly of the 
circumspection of their generals and expressed his 
surprise that they had not taken advantage of the 
favourable opportunities he gave them for attack. 
He offered to return the ladies safely to their friends 
if the Quebec batteries would allow a vessel conveying 
sick and wounded to pass the city. The compact was 
made and faithfully carried out, but the French said 
afterwards that Wolfe had seized the chance to get 
cattle and provisions, which they quite erroneously 
believed he needed, down the river also. A day or 
two later Vaudreuil did gain time to repair some 
damaged works by despatching an envoy to Wolfe 
with acknowledgments of his courtesy in another 
matter : Wolfe had sent into Quebec some cases of 
wine taken from a captured French vessel, and 
Vaudreuil asked the General and Saunders to do him 
the honour of accepting a few cases in return. 

1 Wood : p. 187. 

a Montcalm and Wolfe, vol. ii, p. 224. 

3 Doughty, vol. ii, p. 113. 


Sterner Wolfe began to feel that more extreme measures 

measures, would have to be taken ; the Canadians had not 
responded to his overtures, and he was especially 
incensed by the discovery that many of them fought 
in the disguise of Indians. There was a vigorous 
interchange of views between him and Montcalm 
regarding scalping and he issued a significant order 
strictly forbidding " the inhuman practice except 
when the enemy were Indians or Canadians dressed 
like Indians." In a new proclamation on the 25th 
July he said the Canadians had shown themselves 
unworthy of the offers he had made them ; he had 
therefore issued orders that his troops should overrun 
their country, seize the inhabitants, and their flocks, 
and destroy whatever they should consider necessary. 
As, however, he was ashamed to go to the barbarous 
extremities of which the Canadians and their Indian 
allies had set the example, he proposed to defer his 
reprisals till the 10th August in the hope that the 
Canadians would submit. Whatever severities 
Wolfe's proclamations might suggest, it is certain 
that he never permitted any cruelty or hardship to 
be inflicted on the people who were at his mercy, 
unless he deemed harsh measures essential in the 
interests of his army. The French, whose privations 
were growing daily, and who saw the summer rapidly 
progressing with no prospect of harvesting their 
crops, became desperate and once more Vaudreuil 
determined to try the effect of fire-rafts. On the 
27th no fewer than seventy-two were sent down the 
river en masse. It seemed impossible the ships could 
escape this time. Two were actually caught by the 
flames, which, however, were put out before much 
damage had been done. Once more the sailors came 


to the rescue, cheerfully, as one of them said, taking 
Hell in tow. Wolfe did not consider that fire-ships 
were part of the game, and took strong measures to 
stop the nuisance. " If," he told Vaudreuil, " you 
presume to send down any more fire-rafts they shall 
be made fast to the two transports in which the 
Canadian prisoners are confined, in order that they 
may perish by your own base inventions." There 
were no more fire-ships. 

tick. . , 

•3— (2813) 



How to A month of manceuvrings and bombardment, of 
Montcalm ? skirmishings and reconnoitring, of excursions and 
alarums, and for all practical purposes Wolfe was as 
far off the capture of Quebec as on the day when 
he landed on the Island of Orleans. As day by day 
went by he became more and more impressed with 
the urgency of compelling Montcalm to come out and 
fight. As to the issue of a fair and square battle, he 
entertained not the slightest misgiving ; he under- 
stood, as did Montcalm, that the troops behind the 
Beauport ramparts were no match in the open for his 
seasoned veterans. Quality and numbers were in 
inverse ratio. Wolfe had to think of Amherst and 
Pitt, as well as of his own and his army's reputation. 
But what could he do ? Amherst was making no 
progress which served to draw off any of Montcalm's 
men. England, on the other hand, expected Wolfe 
to strike a blow which would assist Amherst's move- 
ments, and he found himself engaged in a more or 
less futile interchange of shot and shell with the 
enemy. The examination of the river above Quebec 
had not appeared to offer much more prospect of 
getting at the city from that direction than did the 
fords up the Montmorency and the wooded country 
to Montcalm's rear. Montcalm shared his view about 
the St. Lawrence, and from the force which Wolfe 
could bring to bear on the Montmorency side ^ 
anticipated no serious attack. To do nothinp " 6 



however, to Wolfe intolerable, and if to do something 
involved frightful odds, the odds must be given. 

There was more than usual stir in the British ranks The 
on the 29th and 30th July. Precisely what was f h e a r " port 
intended only Wolfe and Saunders, and perhaps the 
Brigadiers, knew. Wolfe had decided to try to pierce 
the left of the French defences near the Montmorency 
held by the Chevalier de Levis. If the idea was des- 
perate it was also resourceful and was based on the 
most minute study of the physical conditions which 
so far had been possible. The attack was to be partly 
by land, partly by water. Between the cliffs behind 
which Montcalm had thrown up his entrenchments 
and the water's edge at high tide is a stretch of shore 
some 200 yards wide. When the tide is out there 
is exposed a stretch of oozy gully-riven mud. A 
redoubt had been built on the shore just above the 
high-water mark, but its exact distance from the 
entrenchments Wolfe had never been able to ascertain. 
A second redoubt stood nearer the Falls. These posts 
would make any attempt to land a matter of extreme 
peril. Even after they had been disposed of there 
was the strand to be crossed under point blank fire 
from the shelter of the works on the cliff. At low 
water the Montmorency below the Falls was easily 
fordable, and Wolfe's plan was to run in on the high 
tide a couple of armed flat-bottomed transports, 
called catts, as near the first redoubt as the range 
permitted, to get the Centurion carrying sixty guns 
in a position near the Falls from which to bombard 
the batteries and the redoubt on the French left, 
whilst a powerful battery in the English camp played 
upon them from across the Montmorency. At low 
tide the catts would be aground and able to assist the 


landing of the troops which Wolfe intended himself 
to direct ; whilst Townshend with a couple of 
thousand men would move across the ford beneath 
the Falls. A preliminary movement of Townshend's 
up the Montmorency was made to suggest that a 
simultaneous attack would be delivered to the north, 
and activity on the southern shore was to render 
uncertainty doubly uncertain. 
July 31st. By 10 o'clock on the morning of the 31st Wolfe was 
afloat with several regiments from both Points Levi 
and Orleans ; the catts and the Centurion took up 
their allotted places, and fire was opened from the 
Levi and Montmorency batteries, as well as from the 
vessels. Wolfe, nearer the French lines than he had 
ever been, saw that the redoubts were commanded 
by the French batteries and realised more strongly 
than had been possible hitherto the character of the 
undertaking. Some students of that historic day 
have thought that his object was perhaps little more 
than what is euphemistically called a reconnaissance 
in force, but no one who reads his despatch to Pitt 1 
can doubt that his intention at starting was to attack 
the French entrenchments. Otherwise, from the 
nature of the enterprise, there would be much to be 
said in favour of Mr. Bradley's view that the General, 
having inspected the position, would do little more 
than make a demonstration on the water. 2 As the 
day proceeded, Montcalm for once thought the 
occasion demanded outside action on his part, and 
actually ordered a detachment to cross the up river 
fords to take Townshend's men in the rear. The 
movement was noticed by Wolfe, and he promptly 
signalled to the Point Levi that some men should be 
1 Appendix I. 2 Wolfe, p. 166. 


sent westward along the south shore ; the effect of 
this counter move was instantaneous, and Montcalm's 
resolution failed him. The fact that Wolfe did not 
strike at once but moved his boats, laden with eager 
soldiery, for hours up and down the river to the greater 
bewilderment of the enemy seems to have encouraged 
the idea that he hesitated. It was a hot July day, 
the air was heavy with electricity, and the trial to 
both British and French was severe. " The cause 
of the delay is not apparent," says Mr. Doughty 1 ; 
" the attempt after long and close inspection, seemed 
too desperate to be justifiable," says Mr. Bradley. 2 
The explanation surely is that the two catts had to 
go in at high tide in order to ground as near the 
redoubts as possible at low tide, and that until low 
tide the Montmorency ford was impracticable. To 
land the troops at high tide was out of the question ; 
yet to secure the assistance of the catts, operations 
must begin at high tide ; the plan was ingenious and 
Wolfe had Saunders' cordial co-operation. 

" At a proper time of the tide," Wolfe signalled The first 
to the Brigadiers to make a forward move, though 
what that proper time was I cannot determine. Mr. 
Doughty 3 and Major Wood 4 say it was " past three " ; 
Mr. Bradley, that " it was past four o'clock before 
Wolfe made up his mind " ; 5 Parkman, that the crisis 
came at half-past five. 6 Having delayed so long it 
was vital now that every movement should be 
executed with smartness and in good order. Wolfe's 
calculations were to be upset this day by a check 
when he wanted to advance, and by a precipitate 

1 Vol. ii, p. 136. 2 Wolfe, p. 167 

3 Vol. ii, p. 136. 4 p. 192. 

5 Wolfe, p. 166. 6 Montcalm and Wolfe, vol. ii, p. 240. 



rush forward when there should have been delibera- 
tion. The boats suddenly struck a shoal, from which 
they were got off with some difficulty ; Wolfe made 
a considerable point of the delay thus caused, and was 
at first inclined to lay blame on the sailors who should 
have saved him from his temporary embarrassment. 
The accident was the more grievous seeing that 
Saunders was present in person doing his best to make 
the operations a success. 1 Having got clear of the 
obstacle and found a place to land, Wolfe going in 
first with some naval officers to make sure this time, 
the Grenadiers were put on shore, followed by the 
Royal Americans ; the Grenadiers were to form up 
in four distinct bodies, and with the support of 
Monckton's Brigade in their rear, and of Townshend 
and Murray now moving across the Ford, were to 
lead the attack on the redoubt. 
Xhe What possessed the Grenadiers at that critical 

Grenadiers ' moment ? They were Wolfe's veterans on whose disci- 
wild dash. pHne he WQuld haye staked all yet like a trusted 

high mettled horse, who for once in his life takes the 
bit between his teeth, the Grenadiers, without waiting 
for orders, dashed wildly forward ; whether they 
thought they had orders one cannot tell ; whatever 
the explanation, " they made one of those un- 
accountable blunders that will sometimes happen 
with the best troops in the heat of action." 2 ^They 
went straight for the redoubt which the French 
abandoned, but as it was open at the rear, it could 
not be used as a support for the attack on the entrench- 
ments. 3 For a moment they were checked by a 
terrific fusillade ; and then, away they went again as 
though they imagined alone they could carry the 
1 Wood, p. 193. a Ibid. * Ibid, 


enemy's works. Heavy clouds had been collecting, 
and now to the thunder of cannon and crack of 
musket was added the thunder of the elements. A 
storm burst, and the rain destroyed any sort of 
foothold the Grenadiers might have found in their 
wild attempt to reach the heights behind which lay 
thousands of well protected Frenchmen, Canadians 
and Indians. The Grenadiers who started on that mad 
heroic rush were 1,000 strong ; they were not stopped 
till nearly half their number lay dead or wounded 
on the ground between the redoubt and the entrench- 
ments. Some French writers have argued that the 
storm saved Montcalm ; others that it saved Wolfe. 
English authorities are equally divided. If the 
Grenadiers had ever reached the French lines their 
chances were as twenty to one. After what had 
happened, Wolfe saw there was nothing for it but 
to call them back. Townshend's advance was stayed 
by signal, and as the tide was turning, the General 
ordered the men into the boats. Four hundred and 
fifty gallant fellows lay stretched on the shore ; 
Indians in large numbers burst out from the woods 
with scalping knives to do their hideous work ; the 
78th Highlanders were sent forward to bring off as 
many of the wounded as they could find ; there were 
many acts of individual devotion, which a century 
later would have commanded the Victoria Cross, 1 and 
the French in at least one instance showed a 
humanity which was not always forthcoming on 
either side. 

1 The thrilling oft-told story of Ensign Peyton's refusal to 
leave Captain Ochterloney who lay wounded and at the 
mercy of the first tomahawk, forms Chapter VII of Mr. 
Doughty's 2nd volume. 


Wolfe's Wolfe got his army back into the boats, together 

comments. w ^ n ^ e WO unded who had been rescued, and 
Townshend's men retreated in perfect order, waving 
their hats in defiance at the enemy on the heights, 
who even at this critical moment dare not come out 
and fight. As the various regiments made their 
way to their quarters in the three camps, Wolfe's 
ruminations were bitter as the exhilaration in the 
French lines was excessive. Vaudreuil boasted and 
hoped that M. Wolfe would repeat his mad enterprise. 
" I have no more anxiety about Quebec," he wrote. 1 
Wolfe's critics in his own camps were not sparing, 
though naturally they took care to confine their views 
to private papers, but the General himself promptly 
made his own thoughts public. He issued orders in 
which he expressed the hope that the check which the 
Grenadiers had met with would be a lesson to them : 
' Such impetuous, irregular, and unsoldier-like pro- 
ceedings destroy all order, make it impossible for 
their commanders to form any disposition for an 
attack, and put it out of the General's power to 
execute his plan. The Grenadiers could not suppose 
that they alone could beat the French army, and 
therefore it was necessary that the corps under 
Brigadier Monckton and Brigadier Townshend should 
have time to join, that the attack might be general ; 
the very first fire of the enemy was sufficient to repulse 
men who had lost all sense of order and military 
discipline ; Amherst's and the Highland regiments 
alone by the soldier-like and cool manner they were 
formed in, would undoubtedly have beat back the 
whole Canadian army, if they had ventured to attack 
them. The loss, however, is inconsiderable, and may 
1 Parkman : Montcalm and Wolfe, vol. ii, p. 243. 


be easily repaired when a favourable opportunity 
offers, if the men will show a proper attention to their 

These reflections were described by one chronicler The 
of the campaign as "a cruel aspersion " on the view 
Grenadiers, and an officer of " knowledge, fortune and 
interest " — it sounds curiously like Townshend — was 
heard to say that " the attack then and there was 
contrary to the advice and opinion of every officer." 
Townshend 's biographer says that " the confidence 
of the troops in Wolfe was much shaken by this 
disaster. For nothing in war is so bad as failure and 
defeat : " a statement which every incident in the 
remainder of the campaign flatly contradicts, unless 
we are to accept the few malcontents in Wolfe's 
camps as wholly trustworthy witnesses. Colonel 
Townshend does not believe that the men advanced 
in spite of orders. " I feel convinced that the cause 
of this disaster as in so many other cases was a 
burning thirst for battle on the part of the troops, 
officers and men alike, such as one sees in men who, 
never having been on active service before, are 
impatient to find themselves engaged"; 1 in other 
words Colonel Townshend confirms the impression left 
by Wolfe's own words that splendid veterans on this 
occasion acted like raw troops eager to show their 
spirit and courage. Wolfe loved his Grenadiers, and 
his rebuke was based on immediate observation ; 
his critics spoke at second-hand. The General was at 
special pains to show that he considered the officers 
free from blame : he visited personally during the 
night every wounded officer and invited the survivors 

1 Military Life of Townshend, p. 196, 


to dine with him. l The morale of the men them- 
selves was in no way destroyed by their mistake and 
its heavy punishment. " The survivors re-formed at 
once, the discipline which had been lost for those few 
fatal minutes was restored, and the next day all ranks 
were as fit for service as ever." 2 That day Wolfe 
wrote to Monckton : " This check must not dishearten 
us: prepare for another and better attempt." 3 
T f h th Part Why Wolfe combined a land and sea attack is not 

fleet. plain to Colonel Townshend, 4 nor to Mr. Doughty, 

who sees " disadvantages in union," when Wolfe 
might have confined himself to a land attack and used 
his boats to distract the enemy's right. 5 What they 
see a century and a half after the event Wolfe saw 
directly experience had proved theory to be mislead- 
ing. A long letter to Saunders makes this point quite 
clear. Before sending his despatch of the 2nd 
September to Pitt, 6 Wolfe submitted it to his naval 
colleague. Something in that despatch referring to 
the part played by the navy in the attempt on 
Montmorency was not approved by Saunders and 
Wolfe promptly struck it out. From his reply to the 
Admiral we get an excellent insight into Wolfe's 
thoughts concerning the whole business : "I am," he 
said, " sensible of my own errors in the course of the 
campaign ; see clearly wherein I have been deficient ; 
and think a little more or less blame to a man that 
must necessarily be ruined, of little or no conse- 
quence." He denied that he attributed all his diffi- 
culties to the two catts not being so placed as "to 

1 Bradley : Wolfe, pp. 170-1. 

2 Wood, p. 194. 

8 Dictionary of National Biography : Monckton. 

4 p. 197. » Vol. ii, p. 135. 6 See Appendix I. 


annoy the two small batteries with their guns " ; on 
the contrary, they did all that could be expected, and 
yet " the upper battery was not abandoned by the 
enemy but continued firing till the Grenadiers ran like 
blockheads up to it." It seems that Captain James 
Cook, the navigator, who was one of Saunders' 
Captains, believed he could get within forty or fifty 
yards of the redoubts, and Wolfe would have been 
satisfied with 150 or 200 yards if the upper redoubt 
had been as far from the entrenchments as it appeared 
to be from the British camp. From the lower redoubt 
so brisk a fire was kept up that Wolfe himself had 
a narrow escape. " I was no less than three times 
struck with splinters, and had my stick knocked 
out of my hand with a cannon-ball." The blame of 
" that unlucky day " he took entirely upon his own 
shoulders. " Accidents cannot be helped. As much 
as the plan was defective falls justly upon me," and 
it was of no great consequence whether the catts fired 
ill or well, lost time in landing or not. " In none of 
these circumstances the essential matter resides. 
The great fault of that day consists in putting too 
many men in the boats, who might have been landed 
the day before, and might have crossed the ford with 
certainty while a small body remained afloat and the 
superfluous boats of the fleet employed in a feint that 
might have divided the enemy's force. A man sees 
his errors often too late to remedy." If Wolfe's plan 
had been ideal the action of the Grenadiers would 
have thrown it completely out of gear. 

Wolfe now thought of trying to get into touch with Murray's 
Amherst, or at any rate to open a way which might °P erations « 
make communication possible in the near future. 
Whilst the French fleet was in the river between 


Quebec and Montreal no such communication was 
possible. General Murray, therefore, with 1,200 men 
was ordered to join Admiral Holmes up the river ; 
they were to get at and destroy the French ships, if 
possible, and Murray was to invite Bougainville to 
battle by attacking French posts whenever it could 
be done on " tolerable terms." The ships could not 
be got at and Murray made two attempts to land at 
Pointe aux Trembles which were repulsed with the 
loss of some eighty men, but he outwitted Bougainville 
at Deschambault, where he landed, destroyed valuable 
stores of ammunition, clothing and other necessaries, 
secured some useful papers and prisoners, and was 
back in the boats before Bougainville could reach the 
spot in force. Murray's operations had the effect of 
compelling Montcalm to detach as many as 1,600 to 
act under Bougainville, and his failure at Pointe aux 
Trembles brought some compensation by inducing 
the belief that the more difficult heights nearer the 
city were at any rate secure. The French conceived 
more than one enterprising project by way of turning 
the tables on Holmes and Murray, but for various 
reasons they did nothing. Bougainville thought of 
crossing to the south bank and attacking Murray's 
camp, but bad weather was a sufficient excuse for 
delay. Another officer was prepared to make an 
attack on one of Holmes' ships, but jealousy inter- 
vened, and before anything could be done Saunders 
had sent up reinforcements. It was on the 5th August 
that Murray started up the river ; he was away nearly 
three weeks, much to Wolfe's annoyance. " By his 
long stay above and detaining all our boats Murray 
is actually master of the operations, or rather puts 
an entire stop to them," said the General, and on the 


24th rockets were sent up to show Holmes that 
something was wanted. 

Both armies were feeling the strain ; in the French Laying the 
camp there was scarcity of food and of ammunition : cou " tr y 
in the British there was much sickness. The French 
loss during the operations had not been many more 
than half that of the British — so that the numerical 
disproportion of the forces was greater than ever. 
All told, Wolfe had lost over 800 men. But the state 
of his army was in every way superior to that which 
Montcalm and Vaudreuil controlled. Among the 
French, discontent was rampant and desertions 
numerous. The Canadians saw a plentiful harvest 
being wasted whilst they were on duty behind 
Montcalm's earthworks ; a wasted harvest meant 
privation and ruin when the campaign was over. 
Wolfe continued to lay the country bare, torches were 
placed beneath homesteads whose owners refused to 
be neutral, and the crops which the Canadian hoped 
to garner for himself were appropriated by the British. 
Some barbarous things were done in carrying out 
Wolfe's orders, notably by a brother of the Richard 
Montgomery who died in the attempt to take Quebec 
during the War of Independence. Montgomery had 
prisoners killed in cold blood. There were some signal 
deeds of heroism, too, such as the holding at bay by 
a sergeant and a dozen men of 100 Canadians and 
Indians for two hours till relief came. Wolfe was 
quick to reward any special act of this sort, and 
instantly gave, or promised to give, the sergeant a 
commission. When the luckless habitant applied to 
Vaudreuil to know what he should do he was urged 
to fight for his country more energetically than ever 
because the English would disappear with the end of 


August. Poor wretch : if he fought, Wolfe punished 
him ; if he failed to fight he was treated as a traitor 
by his own people. And the assurances that the 
British were defeated and maintaining a hopeless 
struggle carried as little weight with him as with the 
Indians, who began to lose confidence and said they 
would believe that the French had triumphed when 
the English were driven back to their ships. " Are 
they not as unconcerned in their camps as if nothing 
had happened ? " Vaudreuil and Montcalm were 
encouraged by the reports of deserters that the British 
fleet would shortly sail and that Wolfe contemplated 
breaking up his camps. News reached Quebec early 
in the month that Amherst had captured Ticonderoga, 
and that Niagara also had fallen. But Bourlamaque 
wrote that he had taken up an impregnable position 
at Isle aux Noix, x and from the capture of two officers 
carrying despatches from Amherst to Wolfe Montcalm 
learned that Amherst's operations would depend upon 
the success Wolfe met with at Quebec. 2 

Wolfe's health was a sore trial during this month of 
August. The Montmorency failure told upon him 
more than he cared perhaps to admit. He was 
haunted by the feeling that he would not accomplish 
what Pitt expected of him, and he loathed the thought 
of returning to England to hear the criticisms of the 
ignorant. When Townshend wrote to his wife, 
" General Wolfe's health is but very bad : his general- 
ship in my poor opinion is not a bit better," 3 he was 
only saying what a good many others were either 
thinking or preparing to think. About the 18th or 

1 Parkman : Vol. ii, p. 276. 

* Doughty : Vol. ii, p. 226. 

3 Military Life of Townshend, p. 210. 


19th August Wolfe began to be seriously ill ; by the 
20th he was prostrate with fever, and for a day or two 
it was a question whether he would be fit to resume 
the command. Knox wrote on the 22nd that it was 
with the greatest concern the army learned of " our 
amiable general being very ill of a slow fever. The 
soldiers lament him exceedingly and seemed appre- 
hensive of this even before we were ascertained of it 
by his not visiting the camp for several days." He was, 
as we have seen, sufficiently recovered by the 24th to 
interest himself in Murray's return, and on the 25th 
Knox noted that " General Wolfe is on the recovery 
to the inconceivable joy of the whole army " — a 
sufficient commentary on the suggestion that a single 
reverse had cost Wolfe his popularity with the rank 
and file. 

Ill as he had been Wolfe's thoughts were all for the The 
public service. He told his doctor that he knew he brigadiers 
could not cure his complaint but begged to be patched consult * 
up so that he might be without pain for a few days 
and able to do his duty. " That is all I want." As 
he lay helpless on his bed he fretted at his inability 
to urge matters forward to a definite issue ; every day 
brought him appreciably nearer the season when it 
would be possible to do nothing. He had already 
in his mind the idea of taking up winter quarters on 
the Isle aux Coudres, though that was a prospect 
little more inviting than absolute failure. For the 
first time, therefore, he called upon his Brigadiers " to 
meet and consult for the public utility and advan- 
tage." 1 How best could the enemy be attacked? 

1 The Abbe Casgrain says (Wol e and Montcalm, p. 154) 
that Wolfe " handed the command over to the three 
Brigadiers " ; he did nothing of the sort. 


Defeat of the French army, he concluded, would mean 
the immediate surrender of the town, badly provi- 
sioned as it was. He suggested for their consideration 
three methods all turning on the Beauport entrench- 
ments, from either the rear or the shore or both in 
combination. The Brigadier's reply to this invitation 
was responsible for a controversy in the mists of 
which the great achievement which was the outcome 
has sometimes been obscured. Recently published 
papers enable one to form a judicial and final opinion 
on the merits of the case. " The natural strength of 
the enemy's situation between the Rivers St. Charles 
and Montmorency now improved by the art of their 
engineers makes the defeat of their army, if attacked 
there, very doubtful," wrote the Brigadiers. " Late 
experience " made them shy of repeating the attack 
of the 31st July. They pointed out that if Montcalm 
were defeated, he would still have it in his power to 
dispute the passage of the St. Charles. " We are 
therefore of opinion that the most probable method 
of striking an effectual blow is by bringing the troops 
to the south shore and directing our operations above 
the town. When we have established ourselves on 
the north shore, of which there is very little doubt, 
the Marquis de Montcalm must fight us on our own 
terms ; we are between him and his provisions, and 
betwixt him and the French army opposing General 
Amherst. If he gives us battle and we defeat him, 
Quebec must be ours and what is more all Canada 
must submit to his Majesty's arms, a different case 
from any advantage we can hope for at Beauport." 
On the question of an immediate attack, or a post- 
ponement till the ruin of the harvest had completed 
the ruin of the Colony, " or with a view of facilitating 


the operations of our armies now advancing into the 
heart of the country," the Brigadiers could not take 
upon themselves to advise, " although we cannot but 
be convinced that a decisive affair to our disadvantage 
must enable the enemy to make head against the army 
under the command of General Amherst already far 
advanced by the diversion this army has made on 
this side." The Brigadiers proposed a plan, but with 
the same dip of ink cast doubts on the expediency of 
carrying it out. If they had been men of less grit 
and less worthy soldiers, one might be forced to 
unpleasant conclusions. 

Townshend's friends, somehow, have managed to Towns- 
fix all the credit for the plan on himself. Martin 1 and hend ' s 
Warburton, 2 sixty years ago, like Colonel Townshend 
six years ago, treated the matter as conclusive. 
" After having maturely deliberated, the brigadiers 
agreed," says Warburton, " in recommending the 
remarkable plan which Wolfe unreservedly adopted. 
The merit of this daring and skilful proposition 
belongs to Colonel George Townshend, although long 
disputed or withheld by jealousy or political 
hostility." To that statement Wolfe's own words 3 
would lend some colour if the facts were not now 
placed deyond dispute. To Townshend probably 
belongs an even smaller part of " the merit " than 
to the other Brigadiers, and Miss Kimball says it is 
doubtful if Townshend did not protest against the 
plan as too hazardous. 4 It remained only for Colonel 
C. V. F. Townshend to clench the errors of other 

1 Martin's British Colonies, Div. I, p. 13. 

2 Conquest of Canada, vol. ii, p. 322. 

3 Appendix : "I have acquiesced in their proposal." 

4 Correspondence of Pitt, vol. ii, p. 164. 
14 — (2213) 






writers by giving " the plan of operations which was 
adopted in consequence of the Brigadier's answer " — 
the plan which was not that eventually carried out 
by Wolfe at all — and to append an extract from a 
letter by Wolfe to Townshend which he assumed 
belonged to the plan as drawn up, but which had 
nothing to do with it. Colonel Townshend got his 
papers muddled and fell into a trap of his own making. x 
He says in his preface : "It will be seen that the 
unexpected and surprising manner in which Quebec 
was taken was the plan of the Brigadiers and not of 
Wolfe. That Wolfe put into happy execution the 
plan of others is no disparagement to his glorious 
happy memory — such things are not unknown to 
students of military history." 

The Brigadiers' reply was dated the 29th August. 
Their views were a reversion to Wolfe's earlier idea, 
mentioned in his despatch to Pitt, of carrying the 
operations up the river, an idea which he abandoned 
because the formidable nature of the cliffs, the ease 
with which they could be defended by a handful of 
men against an army, and the difficulties of getting 
men and supplies past Quebec seemed to make the 
task more hopeless than an attack on the Beauport 
lines. " My ill state of health hinders me from 
executing my own plan," said Wolfe to Saunders on 
the 30th ; " it is of too desperate a nature to order 
others to execute. The generals seem to think alike 
as to the operations ; I therefore join with them, and 
perhaps we may find some opportunity to strike a 
blow." His decision taken, he began to give effect 
to it with a spirit which was in striking contrast with 
the hesitancy of the Brigadiers' last words, and within 

1 Doughty : vol. ii, p. 243. 



twenty-four hours he had told Saunders that it 
would be necessary " to run as many small craft by 
the town as possible with provisions and rum for six 
weeks for about 5,000, which is all I intend to take." 

In the midst of his preparations he wrote to his Last letter 
mother. It was the last letter she had from him, t0 h * s 
and it is as significant on account of what it omits as 
of what it says. 

'* Banks of the St. Lawrence, 

"315/ August, 1759. 

" Dear Madam, — 

' ' My writing to you will convince you that no personal 
evils worse than defeats and disappointments have fallen 
upon me. The enemy puts nothing to risk and I can't, in 
conscience, put the whole army to risk. My antagonist has 
wisely shut himself up in inaccessible entrenchments, so that 
I can't get at him without spilling a torrent of blood, and 
that perhaps to little purpose. The Marquis de Montcalm is 
at the head of a great number of bad soldiers, and I am at 
the head of a small number of good ones, that wish for nothing 
so much as to fight him ; but the wary old fellow avoids an 
action, doubtful of the behaviour of his army. People must 
be of the profession to understand the disadvantages and 
difficulties we labour under, arising from the uncommon 
natural strength of the country. 

" I approve entirely of my father's disposition of his affairs, 
though perhaps it may interfere a little with my plan of 
quitting the service, which I am determined to do the first 
opportunity — I mean so as not to be absolutely distressed 
in circumstances, nor burdensome to you or anybody else. 
I wish you much health and am, dear Madam, 

"Your obedient and affectionate son, 

" Jam : Wolfe. 

" If any sums of money are paid to you of what is due to my 
father from Government, let me recommend you not to 
meddle with the funds, but keep it for your support until 
better times." 



Removing Wolfe's first business was to get his men safely away 
a camp. f ro m Montmorency : the task was a supremely diffi- 
cult and delicate one. It would provide the French 
with an opportunity for mischief for which they had 
been on the look-out during several weeks. Knox 
as early as the 5th August recorded in his journal : 
" Scarce a day passes but we hear of some brilliant 
coup which the French intend to strike at one or other 
of our three encampments. Now we are told by 
deserters that they will wait until General Wolfe is 
obliged to withdraw his troops from the north camp — 
then fall on him with their whole force and cut the 
flower of his army to pieces." Wolfe was here as 
elsewhere more than a match for his wily and cautious 
opponent. The transference was accomplished by 
tactics which completely deceived Montcalm as to 
their real purpose. Montcalm early discovered that 
some great movement was afoot, but the movement 
was chiefly upon the water and the south shore. 
Preparations were being made obviously for a new 
attack, but whether the attack was to be on the 
Beauport lines or on the other side of Quebec he 
had no means of discovering. There was a great 
demonstration by boats, the Point Levi batteries 
kept up a ceaseless fire, and the signs were all in 
favour of something happening very different from 
the thing that did happen. As the boats stood in to 
the Montmorency shore, the enemy's belief that the 



men of a new attacking force were to be taken off 
grew, and in their anxiety to be ready at all points 
they missed the chance of delivering a blow that 
must have been heavy. Early in the morning of the 
3rd September, the whole Montmorency camp was 
transferred without the loss of a single man. 

What the French felt as they watched the boats Amusing 
with a well-timed movement withdraw instead of the enem y« 
advance may be gleaned from French journals and 
letters. Montcalm was blamed, and all he and his 
officers could say in justification was that they 
detected 2,000 men lying on their faces in the British 
entrenchments at the very moment that they were 
supposed to have crossed over to the Island of Orleans. 
"There was danger of falling into some snare," 1 
they said. Wolfe next removed all save 600 men, 
whom he left under Carleton, from the Island to the 
south shore ; 1 ,600 men were left on Point Levi under 
Colonel Burton, and the rest, as far as could be by 
night, marched in detachments under Monckton, 
Murray, and Townshend to spots where boats were 
waiting to carry them to the ships between Sillery and 
Cap Rouge. Wolfe joined the fleet up the river on 
the 5th, and Admiral Holmes began to " amuse " 
the enemy by sailing his vessels backwards and 
forwards. Montcalm had sent de Levis to Montreal 
with reinforcements in view of Amherst's advance ; 
he strengthened Bougainville and held himself in 
readiness to go to any point at any moment danger 
threatened. He shifted his main camp from the 
Montmorency to La Canardiere much nearer Quebec, 
and was prepared for the appearance of Wolfe at 
Cap Rouge or higher up, or on the Beauport shore. 
1 Doughty : vol. ii, p. 264. 


How many men Wolfe had transferred above Quebec 
there was nothing to indicate, a clever show of 
strength being maintained in both the camps across 
the water. Montcalm dared not reduce the numbers 
already depleted by the detachments given to de 
LeVis and Bougainville, and he was confident that the 
latter could meet any force that might attempt a 
landing anywhere between Quebec and Pointe aux 
Trembles. That the attempt if made would be 
between Cap Rouge and Pointe aux Trembles, in 
accordance with the plan of the Brigadiers, was the 
opinion of Montcalm. The one man who had other 
views was Wolfe. Montcalm ought to have known 
by this time that the British General never did the 
obvious thing, and the more attention Wolfe paid to 
a particular stretch of coast the less likely was he 
to strike there. 
A respite Wolfe conferred with the Brigadiers on the 7th 


doubts. as to the best method of attack ; the next day the 

Brigadiers reconnoitred and proposed to land at 
Pointe aux Trembles * on the 9th. The plan, if it was 
entertained, was defeated by a heavy storm, which 
lasted over two days, during which operations were 
suspended. The men cooped up in the transports 
were suffering from their confinement and Wolfe sent 
half the number on shore to refresh themselves and 
stretch their limbs. He took advantage of the 
respite himself to write a long letter to the Earl of 
Holderness, the Secretary of State for the Southern 
Department. Some points in his letter, which was 
dated " The Sutherland at Anchor off Cape Rouge, 
September 9, 1759," are an interesting supplement 
to the despatch sent a week earlier to Pitt. 2 If 
1 Wood, p. 215. 2 Appendix I. 


Montcalm had shut himself up in Quebec, Wolfe said, 
it would have been long since captured. He described 
the Canadians as " extremely dissatisfied but, curbed 
by the force of the Government and terrified by the 
savages that are posted round about them, they are 
obliged to keep together to work and man the en- 
trenchments." Referring to the French vessels which 
got up the river before Admiral Durell arrived, and 
were now out of the reach of the British men-of-war, 
he said : " These ships serve a double purpose ; they 
are magazines for their provisions and at the same 
time cut off all communication between General 
Amherst's army and the corps under my command, 
so that we are not able to make any detachment to 
attack Montreal or favour the junction or by attacking 
the fort of Chambly or Boulemarque's Corps behind 
open the General's way into Canada." He paid a 
compliment to the unceasing hard work which his 
" poor soldiery " had done without murmuring ; he 
indicated the nightly risks they ran from surprise 
and murder, and the difficulties of the ships during 
" the most violent ebb tide when they often drag 
their anchors by the mere force of the current. Our 
fleet blocks up the river above and below the town, 
but can give no manner of aid in an attack on the 
Canadian army. x We are now here with about 3,600 
men waiting an opportunity to attack them when 
and wherever they can best be got at. The weather 
has been extremely unfavourable for a day or two, 
so that we have been inactive. I am so far recovered 

1 The Abbe Casgrain (Wolfe and Montcalm, p. 167) 
says : " It is curious that Wolfe should state that the fleet 
could give no manner of aid in an attack on Quebec." Wolfe 
obviously meant that the ships could not get at the enemy ; 
he did not intend to imply that the naval forces were useless. 

au Foulon. 


as to do business, but my situation is entirely ruined 
without the consolation of having done any consider- 
able service to the State or without any prospect of 
it." Touches always of doubt — touches which throw 
the event now so near into more dramatic relief. 
The^Anse When the stormy conditions passed, and everyone 
anticipated that the critical hour had arrived, the 
General did more reconnoitring. With Admiral 
Holmes and certain officers, all dressed as Grenadiers, 
he dropped down the river, examining every inch of 
the cliff with keen eye as he went, and ultimately 
took up his position on the south shore opposite the 
Anse au Foulon. By whom Wolfe's attention was 
originally drawn to this particular cove, or whether 
its advantages over others were detected by the 
General himself, is matter of speculation. Credit is 
generally given to one Major Stobo, a Scotch officer 
who was one of Washington's hostages after Fort 
Necessity ; Stobo, taken to Quebec, gave his parole, 
broke it and escaped to convey information to the 
British at Louisbourg. Biographers of Washington 
refer to Stobo as though there were no question as 
to Wolfe's indebtedness to him ; but Stobo has been 
associated on the strength of his own representations 
with much in which he had no hand. Mr. Doughty, 
for instance, has disproved his claim to have been one 
of the heroes with Wolfe in the final attack ; he left 
the St. Lawrence on the 7th September nearly a week 
before the event. x The essential fact is that twenty- 
four hours after the Brigadiers imagined that the 
assault was to be made on the enemy's position many 
miles higher "up river, Wolfe was studying the spot 
within two miles of Quebec which ever since has been 
1 The Siege of Quebec, vol. ii, p. 114. 


known as Wolfe's Cove. Information must have 
reached him that whilst Montcalm, Vaudreuil, and 
Bougainville were running hither and thither in order 
not to be taken unawares either above Cap Rouge or 
below Quebec, the Anse au Foulon was weakly held 
by an officer named Vergor who had already proved 
v his worthlessness if not his actual treachery. There 
is hardly a movement at this juncture which is not 
the occasion of controversy. Major Wood and others 
say that it was by Vaudreuil's own orders that Vergor 
was allowed to hold the post ; the Abbe Casgrain says 
that Bougainville's action in placing it in the hands 
of such a man was unpardonable. x Then Vergor 
should have been supported by the Guyenne Regiment 
which Montcalm had allotted for that purpose, but 
the Regiment was elsewhere. Vergor had allowed 
most of his men to go to their farms on the under- 
standing that they should look after his own : it is 
suggested that he trusted to the Guyenne Regiment 
in the event of any attempt being made. 

Whatever the explanation Wolfe discovered how Orders and 
weak the defence was at this point, and for the next intentlons - 
two days the apparent preparations for a landing in 
the direction of Pointe aux Trembles and at Beauport 
kept the French on the alert at both ends. Montcalm 
urged Bougainville to watch every movement of the 
enemy afloat, and to take every possible precaution 
against surprise. For a week or more the state of 
Montcalm's mind was reflected in one sentence. " II 
est certain que la conduite des ennemis est aussi 
embarrassante qu'equivoque." If any information 
of Wolfe's intentions reached Montcalm it was to the 

1 Wolfe and Montcalm, p. 178. 


effect, as Admiral Holmes wrote after the battle, that 
a plan to land four leagues above the town was afoot. 
Wolfe as usual kept his own counsel : he did not, it 
is generally agreed, say a word to his Brigadiers as 
to the decision he had taken ; they seem to have 
learned no more than was contained in the General 
Orders issued on the 11th — orders which went into 
detail on every point except as to the spot at which 
the attack was to be made. Nor was it even men- 
tioned in further orders on the 12th. 1 " The troops 
will land where the French seem least to expect it. 
The first body that gets on shore is to march directly 
to the enemy and drive them from any little post 
they may occupy. The battalions must form on the 
upper ground and be ready to charge whatever 
presents itself. The officers and men will remember 
what their country expects of them." The Brigadiers 
were only less in the dark than the French them- 
selves. Late on the 12th all three wrote to ask 
Wolfe to give them more explicit instructions for the 
operations which were to take place in a few hours' 
time. " We must beg leave to request of you as 
distinct Orders as the nature of the thing will admit 
of, particularly of the place or places we are to attack. 
This circumstance (perhaps very decisive) we cannot 
learn from the public orders, neither may it be in the 
power of the naval officer who leads the Troops to 
instruct us." 
Wolfe and And these were the Brigadiers whose plan Wolfe is 
hi ? . supposed to have adopted : this was the plan whose 

nga iers. "unexpected and surprising character," Warburton 
and Townshend said, was the Brigadiers' and not 
Wolfe's ; this was " the daring and skilful proposition" 
1 Wood, p. 221. 


of which the " merit " belonged to George 

Townshend. Could confession of ignorance be more 

absolute ? Wolfe's answer was to the effect that the 

attack would be at the Foulon about two miles from 

Quebec. But he reminded the Brigadiers that it was 

not usual in public orders to indicate the direct spot 

of an attack " nor for any inferior officers not charged 

with a particular duty to ask instructions on that 

point." To the best of his knowledge and abilities 

he had fixed upon that spot where they could act 

with the most force and were most likely to succeed. 

"If I am mistaken I am sorry for it and must be 

answerable to his Majesty and the public for the 

consequence." Mr. Doughty says that " Wolfe's 

sudden rejection of the plan of the Brigadiers after 

all the details had been arranged naturally caused a 

feeling of resentment at the moment and protests 

were made. This may be the reason why Wolfe did 

not disclose his plan more fully to his officers at the 

time." 1 It is a remarkable fact that what Wolfe 

kept from his Brigadiers he communicated to Colonel 

Burton commanding Webb's Regiment at Point Levi 

on the 10th September — 

" Sixteen hundred of our men are upon the south shore 
to clean and refresh themselves and their transports ; and 
indeed to save the whole army which must have perished if 
they had continued forty-eight hours longer on board. 
To-morrow the troops re- embark, the fleet sails up the river 
a little higher, as if intending to land above upon the north 
shore, keeping a convenient distance for the boats and armed 
vessels to ' fall down to the Foulon ; and we count (if no 
accident of weather or other prevents) to make a powerful 
effort at that spot about four in the morning of the 13th. 
At ten or eleven or twelve at night, sooner or later as it may 
be necessary, on Wednesday the 12th, we get into our boats. 
If we are forced to alter these measures you shall know it ; 

1 The Siege of Quebec, vol. ii, p. 248. 


if not it stands fixed : be you careful not to drop it to any, 
for fear of desertion, and it would not be amiss for Carleton 
to pass his troops [from Orleans] in the beginning of Wednes- 
day night. Crofton can file along the shore to his right, and 
meet you at the post you take ; let the men have their 
blankets and let the tents be struck, bundled up and ready to 
bring over. If we succeed in the first business, it may produce 
an action, which may produce the total conquest of Canada ; 
in all cases it is our duty to try the most likely way, whatever 
may be the event." ( J ) 

This letter seems to have been overlooked in the 
discussion of the question of Wolfe's independent 
action. Why should Wolfe have told Burton what 
he refused to tell Monckton and Murray ? That he 
should withhold information from Townshend was 
not altogether inexplicable, and perhaps in Townshend 
we have the key to the mystery. 
Fore- What " harbinger preceding still the fates," what 

bodings. « precurser of fi erce events," on this 12th night of 

September was it that affected both Wolfe and 
Montcalm ? What made the one feel he would not 
survive that night's enterprise, the other that irre- 
trievable disaster was impending ? Among Mont- 
calm's great anxieties was the problem of provisions : 
Quebec and his army, before the English secured so 
complete a command of the river, had been fed by 
both the land route and the water route. Latterfy 
supplies had come by water as far as St. Augustine, 
thirteen miles from Quebec, 2 whence they had been 
taken overland. Now the recent bad weather had 
made the roads almost impassable, and there was 
nothing for it but to risk sending down boats in the 
dead of night in the hope that they might, by hugging 
the northern shore, get safely past the vessels lying 

(*) Wright, p. 569. 

2 Kingsford, vol. iv, p. 260. 


in mid-stream. From deserters Wolfe learned this 
very night that the provisions were to go down with 
the ebb-tide. The information was invaluable, and 
he turned it to account in a manner not less masterly 
than everything else associated with these historic 
hours. At the turn of the tide his boats, filled with 
men, were to put off from the vessels and float with 
the stream towards the city ; they must now antici- 
pate the provision boats, and if by good luck he 
gained the heights before the mistake was discovered, 
his daring project would already be far on the way to 

Everything was ready : the men on shore as well as The turn 
the men on the transports were taking what rest they of the tide, 
could get before the signal should be hoisted in the 
Sutherland's main-top shrouds which would start 
them on their momentous trip. Wolfe found time 
at this hour to visit a couple of young officers who 
were on the sick list, one of those little attentions in 
which he never failed. Then he thought of himself, 
and summoned to his cabin on board the Sutherland, 
Jack Jervis, who was in charge of the Porcupine sloop. 
How these two had become such intimate friends there 
is nothing in the papers of either of them that I have 
been able to trace to show ; may be the fact that 
they had been under the same schoolmaster, though 
not at the same time, was the first link in the chain of 
which the last was now to be forged. Wolfe handed 
over to his friend for disposal in case the presentiment 
which had seized him should be realised, his papers 
and a miniature of Miss Lowther, which he wore 
beneath his waistcoat. In his will he desired that 
the picture might be set in jewels to the value of £500 
and returned to her by Jervis ; he made various 


legacies, asked Admiral Saunders to accept his light 
service of plate " in remembrance of his guest," left 
his papers and books to Carleton, made various money 
presents to certain officers, friends, and servants, and 
the residue to his " good mother entirely at her 
disposal." There remained nothing now to be done 
but to await the turn of the tide, the turn of the tide 
in every sense of the word for Wolfe, for Montcalm, 
for Canada, for America, for two great Empires. 
Midnight was approaching when a single lantern 
conveyed the order that Monckton's and Murray's 
men were to take their place in the boats : the night, 
hitherto lighted only by the stars, had become misty ; 
the movement would therefore be shrouded from the 
sharpest watch on shore even if it were kept, and the 
men who had been warned to maintain silence made 
the least possible noise. Before the tide ceased to flow 
part of Holmes' fleet began to move up the river ; it 
was his custom to go up and down with the tide, and 
no suspicion that any special development was at 
hand was started in the minds of the French, if they 
detected the big ships making the usual movement. 
For an attack they were prepared. Away on the 
other side of Quebec the fleet under Saunders was 
active, 1 and the Levi batteries flashed and boomed. 
The signal About two o'clock a second signal was given and 
the boats, the first of which contained Wolfe, his staff, 
and twenty-four men who had been selected to lead 
what might prove to be a forlorn hope, set out in a 

1 An Edinburgh Reviewer (July, 1903), who has examined 
the ships' logs preserved in the Public Record Office, disputes 
the activity of both Holmes and Saunders as commonly 
reported, but I can see nothing in the ships' records to disprove 
that Holmes moved up the river to deceive Bougainville, or 
that Saunders demonstrated to deceive Montcalm. 


procession which it is estimated took an hour to pass 
a given point. As the boats were carried swiftly 
but silently on the ebb tide, Wolfe is said to have 
revealed his own forebodings by reciting to his 
companions the verse from Gray's Elegy which 
ends — 

' ' The paths of glory lead but to the grave, ' ' General and 

and to have made the comment that he would rather 

have been the author of those lines than take Quebec. 
The anecdote in its traditional form, accepted for 
long as true, is not credible ; it was subject to search- 
ing examination by Dr. E. E. Morris ; 1 and it is 
reasonably certain that if Wolfe did recite Gray's 
Elegy and make any such comment, it was not on this 
occasion. Is it conceivable that he should break the 
rule of silence he had laid down, by so unnecessary 
a proceeding as even a whispered recitation, or that 
he should tell men who were embarking on a life and 
death errand that their and his work was of less 
account than the poet's ? The original story is based 
on a statement made by a midshipman named 
Robison, and is to be found in a letter from Sir 
Walter Scott to Southey dated September 22nd, 1830, 
discovered by Mr. Augustine Birrell some years ago. 
Scott knew that Southey had in mind the publication 
of the life and letters of Wolfe, and recounted the 
anecdote, which he got first hand, for Southey's 

" On the night when Wolfe crossed the river with his small 
army they passed in the men-of-war's long boats and launches, 
and the General himself in the Admiral's barge. The young 
midshipman who steered the boat was John Robison, 

1 English Historical Review, 1900, p. 125. 


afterwards Professor of Natural Philosophy in the University 
of Edinburgh, a man of high scientifick attainments. I have 
repeatedly heard the Professor say that during part of the 
passage Wolfe pulled out of his pocket and read to officers 
around (or, perhaps, repeated), Gray's celebrated Elegy in 
a Country Churchyard. I do not know if the recitation was 
not so well received as he expected, but he said, with a good 
deal of animation, " I can only say, Gentlemen, that, if the 
choice were mine, I would rather be the author of these verses 
than win the battle which we are to fight to-morrow morning." 
It must not be supposed that this was a matter of serious 
election, but it was a strong way of expressing his love 
of literature. I have (heard) Mr. Robison tell the story 
repeatedly, for his daughter became the wife of my intimate 
Friend Lord Erskine." 

This letter, Mr. Birrell said in communicating it to 
the Times, " seems to prove the truth of the story 
as conclusively as human testimony can prove 
anything." What it does seem to prove is that Wolfe 
recited the lines, not when floating down the river, 
but a good many hours previously. Either that or 
Scott confused his facts. 
Wolfe's .. Many reasons have been given why Wolfe was 
peculiarly lucky in this supreme adventure. Parkman 
discovers seven ; x the Abb6 Casgrain discovers ten 2 
and they all amount to this : that if the French had 
been as competent, as loyal, and as vigilant as the 
circumstances demanded, the path of glory would 
have been the path of crushing disaster. In Wolfe 
the French had to deal with a genius for war that 
was quite exceptional, and the Abbe Casgrain's 
editors sum the matter up admirably when they say : 
' Wolfe had good luck, it is true, but the good luck 
which accompanies excellent strategy." His good 
luck was much more in the immediate circumstances 
than in those antecedent to the stratagem itself ; 

1 Montcalm and Wolfe, vol. ii, p. 296. 

2 Wolfe and Montcalm, pp. 184-5. 



with the immediate circumstances in his favour, as 
they were, Wolfe's gallant twenty-four might still have 
effected a successful coup and the developments 
would have been pretty much what they were. When 
Wolfe's boat was opposite the Samos shore and 
consequently nearing his objective, a sentinel's voice 
broke the stillness of those anxious moments : " Qui 
vive ! " A captain of Fraser's Highlanders, who 
knew French, answered " La France ! " Parkman 
says that the question, " A quel regiment? " followed, 
and the captain, knowing that part of the corps was 
with Bougainville, answered : " De la Reine." 1 The 
Abbe Casgrain says that the sentinel, thinking it was 
the convoy of provisions, the order for which had 
been countermanded though the guards had not been 
so informed, allowed the boats to pass without 
demanding the password or assuring himself of the 
truth. 2 A little later the challenge was repeated, 
and in response to the question, " Pourquoi est-ce que 
vous ne parlez plus haul? " the captain enjoined the 
sentry not to make a noise ; the sloop, Hunter, was 
near, and they might be overheard. The presence of 
the Hunter, thus turned to such excellent account, 
had very nearly involved a mishap that would have 
been fatal. The captain had been misled as to the 
provision boats also. As Wolfe got within half a 
cable's length, he noticed that the Hunter's crew 
were running to quarters and training their guns on 
his boat. He was only just in time to hail her 
and prevent the probable failure of the whole 
enterprise. 3 

1 Montcalm and Wolfe, vol. ii, p.*298 

2 Wolfe a^ A Montcalm, p. 180. 

3 Wood, p. 229. 

'5— (&»3) 


The The boats, safely past the second sentry, were 

landing. carried so swiftly down by the current that Wolfe 
presently found himself overshooting the precise spot 
at which he wished to land. How they ever found 
their way at all and how they avoided hopeless 
confusion in the dark is sheer mystery. Led by 
Captain Delaune the first volunteers jumped ashore ; 
the narrow path to the top had been protected by 
an abatis of fallen trees, but the men never hesitated. 
With their guns slung on their backs they began to 
pull themselves up the steep face of the cliff with the 
aid of the bushes and anything that afforded foothold 
or handhold. A larger detachment followed, and 
all got up safely without so much as a challenge. 
Admiral Saunders described the difficulty of gaining 
the top as " scarcely credible " j 1 it was hardly less 
credible that the inevitable cracking of branches of 
trees, the rolling down of stones and the involuntary 
mutterings of men who found themselves in danger 
of pitching headlong back to the shore should not 
have reached the ears of anyone in Vergor's camp. 
Wolfe remained below straining every nerve for the 
first indication of what might happen. He had 
his men now rapidly arriving ready to follow if the 
volunteers succeeded in overwhelming the guard ; if 
they failed they knew they would be sacrificed, but 
Wolfe would not have sacrificed his army. As Mr. 
Doughty suggests, 2 this view is borne out by the letter 
he wrote to Townshend a few hours previously : 
" General Monckton is charged with the first landing 
and attack on the Foulon. If he succeeds you will 
be pleased to give directions that the troops afloat 

1 Correspondence of Pitt, vol. ii, p. 170. 

2 The Siege of Quebec, vol. iii, p. 83. 


be set on shore with the utmost expedition as they are 
under your command." 

Events moved rapidly ; when the leaders reached Up the 
the top they made a dash for the rear of the white 
tents which were visible in the dark ; coming upon 
a picket Captain Macdonald, who also, fortunately, 
spoke French perfectly, was challenged and replied 
that he was bringing reinforcements from Beauport ; 
almost as the sentries discovered their mistake and 
gave the alarm by firing wildly at the apparitions 
rushing upon them, they were overpowered. Vergor, 
asleep in his tent, was startled by the firing and made 
his appearance only to be shot in the heel. Most of 
the picket escaped in the dark to the thickets and 
cornfields near. Again disaster was narrowly averted. 
Some of Wolfe's Light Infantry got up the cliff to the 
left by pre-arrangement, but the volunteers had done 
their work unaided so thoroughly that the friends 
whose coming might have been invaluable were 
forgotten. But for their splendid discipline and nerve 
the volunteers would certainly have fired. If they 
had, they would have disposed of many of Fraser's 
Highlanders. A loud cheer told Wolfe that all was 
well, and while the men already on top took several 
prisoners and gave vigorous chase to others, the forces 
in the boats were quickly disembarked ; the ob- 
structions on the cliff path were cleared away ; the 
boats went out to the ships which had now also 
dropped down the river as far as the Foulon bringing 
more men, and Colonel Burton from the opposite 
shore joined Wolfe with Webb's Regiment. The 
General himself with an energy which in one who had 
recently suffered so much was unnatural, pulled him- 
self up the cliff and formed his men in lines as they 


arrived. Away on the left some few hundred yards 

distant was the battery of Samos which had opened a 

heavy fire on the boats and done some damage ; a 

little further still was the battery at Sillery, which 

fired vigorously on the squadron. Wolfe, Murray 

with the 58th Regiment, and Colonel Howe with the 

Light Infantry, went to capture the Samos battery ; 

this was accomplished after a smart skirmish, and then 

the battery at Sillery was attacked and silenced also. 

Selecting The British, numbering now between three and four 

tne thousand, stood undisputed masters of what were 

^ittle field 

believed to be inaccessible cliffs. As the morning 

broke, cloudy and misty, and Wolfe surveyed the 

cornfields and the woods and the undulating country 

rising away towards Quebec, who shall say, who can 

for an instant understand, what his feelings were ? 

He knew that the apparently impossible having been 

accomplished the feat was the beginning of the end 

either for his army or Montcalm's. But he went 

about his business as coolly as ever he paraded his 

men at Inverness or at Dover. Behind him were the 

cliffs of the St. Lawrence rendering retreat out of the 

question ; on his left already attracted by the firing 

was Bougainville, with a force almost half as strong 

as his own ; on his right lay Quebec, with Vaudreuil 

and Montcalm and de Ramesay ; straight in front 

the very land lying between the St. Lawrence and 

the Charles which in his letter to his uncle three 

months before he had contemplated occupying at 

the opening of the campaign. He was no doubt as 

familiar with every inch of the ground as any man 

could be who had never had the opportunity of looking 

upon it before. A little reconnoitring and he made 

up his mind where he would take his stand for the 


battle which he felt Montcalm must at last fight. 
He wheeled his army towards Quebec and marched 
to the plains of Abraham — a table-land from which 
Quebec was hidden by rising ground. The first sign 
of the enemy was a detachment of the Guyenne 
Regiment on the ridge between the British and the 
city. Wolfe halted his men, and made his disposi- 
tions ; Monckton was towards the St. Lawrence, 
Murray towards the St. Charles, Wolfe himself in the 
centre. To prevent any flanking movement from the 
St. Charles, Townshend was placed at right angles 
facing the river ; Burton had Webb's Regiment in 
reserve, Howe occupied the position in the rear from 
which the French had so recently been driven, and a 
battalion was in charge of the Foulon. All told 
Wolfe had some 4,000 men, the estimates varying 
from 3,500 to 4,800. x The number actually in the 
firing line was 3, 1 1 1 . 2 

Montcalm's first intimation that something was The alarm 
amiss induced him to believe that the British had raised - 
successfully attacked the provision convoy on the 
safe arrival of which so much depended ; the idea 
seemed to account for some part of his agitation 
throughout the night. When a messenger arrived 
with the news that the British had forced the Foulon 
the man was regarded as a lunatic ; it was believed 
that his brain had been turned by sheer fright, 3 and 
he was not believed. But when Montcalm rode out 
in the early morning behind the Beauport lines until 
he got in view of the Plains across the St. Charles and 
there saw for himself the line of redcoats, he knew 
the business was serious as he said to the Chevalier 

1 Appendix III. 2 Wood, p. 235. 

3 Casgrain : Journal du Marquis de Montcalm, p. 611. 


Johnstone, who was with him. He despatched 
messengers to bring up troops, and in headlong haste 
there pressed over the bridge of the St. Charles into 
and through the narrow streets of the almost ruined 
town " troops of Indians in scalp-locks and warpaint, 
a savage glitter in their deep-set eyes ; bands of 
Canadians whose all was at stake — faith, country 
and home ; the colony regulars ; the battalions of 
old France, a torrent of white uniforms and gleaming 
bayonets, La Sarre, Languedoc, Roussillon, Beam, 
victors of Oswego, William Henry, and Ticonderoga. 
So they swept on, poured out upon the plain, some 
by the gate of St. Louis, and some by that of St. John, 
and hurried, breathless, to where the banners of 
Guyenne still fluttered on the ridge." 1 
Montcalm's To the rear there had been heard renewed firing. 
A detachment of Bougainville's men had come upon 
Colonel Howe and been repulsed. Bougainville 
himself by this time had probably been informed, and 
was moving to the assistance of Quebec with what 
haste he could. Montcalm called a council of war, 
and the decision was taken to give battle forthwith. 
Vaudreuil had not appeared on the scene and de 
Ramesay was not prepared to part with the guns 
for which Montcalm asked. Why did not Montcalm 
wait till he had gathered sufficient strength at any 
rate to give him a great numerical advantage ? The 
arrival of Bougainville in due course would have 
improved the chances of victory incalculably. Some 
say Montcalm was anxious to fight before Vaudreuil 
should interfere ; some that he was eager to snatch 
the laurels of this great day single-handed ; others 
that he felt the instant necessity of driving Wolfe 
1 Parkman : Montcalm and Wolfe, vol. ii, pp. 303-4. 



back before he could entrench himself across the 
French line of communications. In a letter to 
Bougainville a week earlier he said : " Je crains 
toujours la communication coupee." If the enemy 
should steal a march on Bougainville, it would, he 
wrote, be for him to see that they did not entrench 
themselves. That is the secret. If further explana- 
tion be necessary it may be found in the simple desire 
of a gallant leader to dispose out of hand of a great 
menace. Whatever the cause, Montcalm did the one 
thing which Wolfe had invited him to do during eleven 
weary weeks. He came out into the open and fought. 
Indeed it is the opinion of the soldier as opposed to 
that of the layman that Montcalm had little choice. 
" Once Wolfe had gained the Heights in force, 
Montcalm was compelled to fight immediately for 
his very existence." 1 Mr. Corbett emphasises this 
point when he says : " Could every general who 
suffers an enemy to pierce his centre wait till he could 
combine a front and rear attack with his several 
wings, then interposition as a tactical stroke would 
lose the deadly character it has earned." 2 

Wolfe watched and awaited developments with a The French 
patience which was none the less perfect because he advance, 
knew now that a few hours must determine the fate 
of both armies ; a few hours and the news would be 
on its way to Amherst and Pitt that a bold stroke 
had either succeeded brilliantly or failed disastrously. 
Montcalm was not long in making his dispositions ; 
he sent Indians and Canadians to worry Wolfe's 
flanks, and well they knew how to take advantage 
of every inch of cover afforded by a clump of trees, a 

1 Wood, pp. 247-8. 

2 England in the Seven Years' War, vol, i, p. 470. 


bush or a break in the ground. There was sharp 
fighting on the left and Townshend's men were 
hotly engaged in taking and losing and retaking 
some houses which afforded excellent shelter for 
sharpshooters. Montcalm advanced steadily, his 
colonials on either wing ; his army was about equal 
to Wolfe's in numbers. As it moved forward, its 
weapons gleaming in occasional bursts of sunlight, it 
presented a spectacle of blue and white uniforms in 
striking contrast with the red lines waiting to meet it. 
Montcalm had several field pieces which did a con- 
siderable amount of damage, but Wolfe had only a 
couple of light guns which Saunders' blue -jackets, 
the handy men then as ever, had managed to haul 
up the Foulon path. Montcalm rode at the head of 
his men ; Wolfe moved freely along the lines, giving 
his last instructions. He had, with the weakness of 
more than one famous general, donned a brand new 
uniform for the occasion, and his tall figure was 
conspicuous. For their better protection, Wolfe 
for a time kept most of his men lying at full length 
on the ground. Now that the enemy was actually 
approaching he had his ranks two deep — " this was 
the first occasion in history that one European army 
had stood two deep to face another on a flat and open 
battlefield " ; 1 every musket was to be loaded with 
two balls, and not a shot was to be fired until he gave 
the word. The French came on shouting wildly, 
Indian fashion, and firing as they came. Wolfe 
moved his men a little forward as though to encourage 
and incite the attack ; then they halted and stood 
to be shot at without a sign that they meant 
to reply. 

1 Wood, p. 236. 


It was a trying few minutes for men whose battle The 
blood was up and made them as eager to get at the victory, 
foe as a hound to break away from the restraining 
leash ; the discipline which failed at Montmorency 
was unshakeable in face of a galling shower which 
left gaps in the British ranks. Wolfe at that moment 
seemed to pervade his army ; every detail seemed to 
be under his immediate control and he had a word 
of encouragement for those who waited so loyally 
for his commands, a word of sympathy for those who 
fell martyrs to discipline. As Wolfe surveyed the 
enemy, declared one who observed him closely, his 
expression became " radiant and joyful beyond 
description." Some slight confusion and a momen- 
tary pause was caused in the French ranks by the 
action of the irregulars who true to the practice of 
Canadian as well as New England rangers — a practice 
that might have saved Braddock's force from anni- 
hilation if it had not been misunderstood — threw 
themselves on the ground after firing in order to 
re-load. The French regulars were apparently as 
little prepared as Braddock for the movement. But 
they swept on until they were within some forty paces. 
Then Wolfe's command came, and the British muskets 
rang out as one : " the most perfect volley ever heard 
on a battlefield " sounding to British and French 
alike as if fired from " a single monstrous weapon." 
There were few British bullets which did not find a 
billet in that point-blank discharge. Montcalm's 
army reeled before it. As the smoke cleared away 
it revealed the hideous writhing chaos of human 
agony ; in the brief interval the British had reloaded 
and again they fired. It was more than flesh and 
blood could stand, and Montcalm attempted in vain 


to stay the headlong flight of the survivors. Wolfe 
ordered the charge, and the Highlanders, with a yell 
rivalling that of Red Indians, the Grenadiers and the 
rest drove the panic-stricken remnant of the French 
army back into Quebec or across the St. Charles ; the 
pursuit was checked only by the guns on the walls 
or the Canadians and Indians who lurked in the 
How The victory was complete, but costly : only less 

Wolfe died. CO stly in personnel to the British than to the French. 
Wolfe and Monckton were both wounded early in the 
engagement ; the General's wrist was torn by a 
bullet, but he bound up the wound with a handker- 
chief ; he was next hit in the groin, but refused to 
retire for an instant ; he continued to direct the fight 
until the moment when the French gave way before 
his terrific fire. Then placing himself at the head of 
the Grenadiers he led the charge. But he did not get 
far. A bullet entered his chest, he reeled and was 
only saved from falling by two officers who saw him 
stagger. " Don't let my brave fellows see me fall," 
he said, as though he understood in that supreme 
moment what his presence meant to his army. It 
was the solicitude of the true captain. He was 
carried to the rear and knew that the surgeon's skill 
was useless. "I'm done for," he murmured, as he sank 
into a state of semi-consciousness. He revived for a 
second when he heard the cry : " They run ! " " Who 
run ? " " The French, Sir, they give way every- 
where." Wolfe opened his glazed eyes and the master 
spirit gave its final orders : " Then go to Colonel 
Burton and tell him to take Webb's Regiment and 
cut off their retreat by the St. Charles." He turned 
on his side, a smile broke upon his pain-contracted 


face, and in words variously given but all to one 
effect, breathed his last : " God be praised : I die 
content." ..." At 11," so runs the simple, eloquent 
entry in the master's Log of the Lowestoft, " came 
on board the corpse of General Wolfe." 

On the French side the General also was among Montcalm 
those wounded unto death : he was shot in the effort mortally 
to rally his broken soldiery, and was supported back wounded - 
to Quebec on his charger. Wolfe died happy in the 
hour of victory : Montcalm happy that he would not 
be a witness of the surrender of Quebec. He survived 
till the following morning. He was forty-seven ; 
Wolfe thirty-two. 

By a stroke of inscrutable fate the command Townshend 
devolved on Townshend ; he completed the work in 
begun by Wolfe ; Bougainville appeared in force, command - 
but when he found that all was over, retreated and 
Townshend paid Wolfe's choice of a battle-ground the 
compliment of refusing to leave it even to deliver a 
blow at Bougainville's dismayed and retiring army. 
Townshend entrenched himself ; five days later the 
capitulation was signed ; the French marched out 
from Quebec with the honours of war ; the British 
entered into possession for the second time ; and 
though Murray the following year nearly contrived 
to lose it again to de Levis, it has remained British 
during 150 years — a monument to British prowess 
ranking with Gibraltar and the Ridge at Delhi. Once 
only since the Treaty of Paris confirmed the surrender 
of Canada has it been seriously challenged, and that 
was by the American rebels who sent Arnold and 
Montgomery to capture it. But Carleton, Wolfe's 
friend, held it for England against the very men in 
whose interests it had been wrested from France. 


Montcalm is credited with a prophecy 1 that if 
England took Canada she would lose America ; 
whether the document embodying that prophecy is 
genuine or not — and Parkman after exhaustive 
inquiry declared it an imposture 2 — it was not a 
solitary view, and within ten years of the signature of 
the Treaty which ended the career of New France, 
New England was claiming privileges the assertion 
of which drove British authority from the English 
section of America, leaving it intact only in Canada. 
So speedy and so mighty were the results attending 
Wolfe's independent daring when he decided to try 
his fortunes at the Anse au Foulon. 

1 Appendix II. 

2 Montcalm and Wolfe, vol. ii, p. 39. 



Admiral Saunders, for none but he could have taken Brought to 
so important a decision, arranged forthwith that the England, 
body of Wolfe should be embalmed and sent to 
England. It was his tribute, the most significant 
and eloquent he could pay, to the loss sustained by his 
country in the death of his military colleague ; he 
and Wolfe for the past six months had lived and toiled 
together, discussed great strategic problems, evolved 
great schemes in the most trying circumstances, 
faced the fortunes of war in positions of joint responsi- 
bility, and to appreciate Wolfe's quality both as man 
and as soldier none was better placed than the master 
of the co-operating fleet. Whilst the mortal remains 
of Wolfe were being encased for transference to his 
native land, those of his opponent found sepulchre 
in a cavity made beneath the floor of the Ursuline 
convent by a British shell. 

British and French alike mourned their heroes now A joint 
at rest, and posterity in both countries as in Canada memorial, 
itself, has honoured the vanquished with the victor. 
The Wolfe-Montcalm monument which stands on 
Dufferin Terrace, Quebec, is surely an unique 
memorial to rival heroes. 





At the moment that Montcalm was breathing his 
last Townshend was issuing General Orders, of which 
the first two lines speak for themselves — 

" 14 Sept., 1759 — Plains of Abraham. 
" Parole — Wolfe. Countersign — England." 

The pathos In England the news of the victory and death of 
ofglorious Wolfe f rj owe d quick on the despatch to Pitt in which 
he had indicated his difficulties in a way to make the 
Government and the nation feel that the task set 
him was beyond his powers, if indeed it was not 
beyond the powers of any man. The revulsion of 
feeling from the dull acceptance of disappointment 
to the realisation that a triumph had been achieved 
equal to the highest hopes, that a brilliant coup had 
wiped failure completely from the record, carried 
the nation into transports which Horace Walpole 
described in his own vivid way. 1 It was Horace 
Walpole who, exactly twenty years earlier, had said 
that the people who were ringing their bells would 
soon be wringing their hands ; now the process was 
reversed and people who were preparing to wring 
their hands rang their bells, lighted their bonfires, 
and almost buried the king under an avalanche of 
congratulatory addresses. But the joy was chastened 
by the recollection that Wolfe had paid the price of 
victory with his life. To two hearts at least the event 
brought deepest sorrow ; there was the widowed 
mother, of whom he was ever so thoughtful, and there 
was the lady to whom he had so recently become 
engaged. 2 Few are the joys that do not bring with 

1 Memoirs of George IT, vol. ii, p. 384. 

2 Miss Lowther in due time married the Duke of Bolton. 
Mr. Doughty records practically all that is known of her, 
which is very little. 

PORTSMOUTH, 17 NOV., 1759 223 

them some secret sorrow, and the happiness of a 
nation is fertilised by the salt tears of individuals. 
When leaders themselves fall, the public conscious- 
ness of homes bereaved is quickened. The pathos 
of glorious war was borne in upon the masses at 
Portsmouth who awaited the signal from the Royal 
William on Saturday, the 17th November, 1759, 
for the removal of the body. At eight o'clock it was 
lowered into a twelve-oared barge, which was towed 
by two twelve-oared barges and attended in solemn 
procession by twelve twelve-oared barges. Grief, we 
are told, made every man and woman mute, and for 
an hour the minute guns of the ships alone broke the 
hush. The body was received on shore by a regiment 
of invalids and a company from the garrison ; it was 
put on a hearse, and with flags half-mast on the fort, 
with the arms of the men in the train reversed, to 
the ringing of muffled bells and the booming of guns, 
the hearse, followed by a solitary mourning coach 
specially sent from London, passed through the 
weeping crowd on its way to the family vault at 
Greenwich. * 

If Wolfe had lived ! From the emotion of the hour a great 
when his body arrived at Portsmouth we may conceive theme, 
what would have happened had he been spared to 
return the Conqueror, the hero. As it was, neither 
oratory nor poetry was quite equal to an occasion, 
than which none more inspiring, it might be thought, 
could be desired. Pitt's glowing eulogy in Parliament 
was apparently so carefully prepared that it failed to 
satisfy ; according to Walpole at least it had not the 
true ring ; the versifier perpetrated lines that hardly 
reached the lyrical level demanded for a third-rate 

1 Annual Register, 1759/ p. 282-3. 



music-hall ballad ; no poet has taken Quebec for 
his theme, and the one outstanding poetic reference 
to Wolfe's achievements and abiding influence is to 
be found in Cowper — 

" England, with all thy faults, I love thee still. 
Time was when it was praise and boast enough 
In every clime, and travel where we might, 
That we were born her children. Praise enough 
To fill the ambition of a private man 
That Chatham's language was his mother tongue 
And Wolfe's great name compatriot with his own. 

Wolfe, where'er he fought, 
Put so much of his heart into his act 
That his example had a magnet's force, 
And all were swift to follow whom all loved." (*) 


It is matter for profound regret that personal 
recriminations should have challenged Wolfe's title 
to the chief glory in the conquest of Quebec, recrimina- 
tions in their way as unworthy as those with which 
Vaudreuil and his peculiar friends pursued the 
memory of Montcalm. What Townshend's ambitious 
designs began the loyalty of a descendant has unfortu- 
nately revived, and Colonel Townshend's action has 
been supported in quarters from which a more 
intimate knowledge of the facts might have been 
expected. It is impossible to escape the conclusion 
that Townshend was anxious to appropriate the 
laurels ; he addressed a despatch to Pitt in which his 
only reference to Wolfe was : "It was then our 
General fell at the head of Braggs'." He sent a copy 
of that despatch to Amherst with a covering letter 
which comments on the battle but makes no mention 

(!) The Task, Book II. 


of Wolfe. In his orders to the troops on the 14th 
September he struck a note which came perilously 
near the contemptuous when he said that the general 
officers wished " that the person who lately com- 
manded them had survived so glorious a day." From 
whom did Warburton get his view that Townshend 
was not only the author of the plan by which Quebec 
was taken but was actually entitled to the credit for 
scaling the cliff, 1 when as a matter of fact the cliff 
had been secured before Townshend was even on his 
way with the boats ? Townshend, with all his 
presumption, could not be responsible for that because 
his despatch to Pitt refers to his waiting till " the 
second disembarkation." But Townshend's ambition 
may be seen from a letter of Monckton's on the 
day when the capitulation of Quebec was signed. 
Monckton was ignored in the negotiations and pro- 
tested that he did not imagine any arrangement 
would be signed without consultation with him. He 
was Townshend's superior, and as within three days 
of the battle he was rapidly recovering from his 
wounds, there was no reason why he should not have 
been considered. Townshend, held in check by the 
master-mind of Wolfe during a campaign of which 
he had grown heartily tired, revelled in the freedom 
of a self-sufficiency which left no room even for 
common courtesy to a disabled colleague. As early 
as the 3rd October Horace Walpole spoke of Lady 
Townshend as " the conqueror's mother. ... I 
hear she has covered herself with more laurel leaves 
than were heaped on the children in the wood." 
Thus the idea that Townshend's was the principal 
part in the business was already abroad. The 
1 Conquest of Canada, vol. ii, p. 322. 

i6— (2213) 



meanness of it all is just what might be expected 
from one who would have disclaimed every shred of 
responsibility for failure. 
Private I n 1760 the Townshend pretension induced a satirist 

versus of the time to address an open letter to " an honour- 

able Brigadier-General Commander in Chief of His 
Majesty's Forces, Canada " — a title which the writer 
said was given by the Compilers of the Court Calendar 

to Brigadier-General T — d. The letter is in this 

vein : " Your understanding was not to be dazzled 
by Mr. Wolfe's foolish passion for glory. He had 
precipitately ventured beyond all possibility of 
retreating. He had no other chance but that of death 
or victory, especially after you had entered your 
solemn protest against his plan for attacking the 
enemy." This document was responsible for a 
controversy in the true eighteenth-century manner, 
and Townshend sought to disprove the case against 
himself by publishing a letter to someone unknown 
which he was supposed to have written on the 25th 
September containing the words : "In General Wolfe 
I have lost but a friend," and " We lost poor General 
Wolfe who fell in the warmest part of the engage- 
ment." Strange that these references should appear 
only in a private document where usually prejudices 
hold greater sway than in public ! Walpole, for 
instance, in his history judged Wolfe in very different 
vein from that of his letters. Walpole was obsessed 
by his love for Conway, whose part at Rochefort 
Wolfe had dared to criticise. Writing to Conway on 
the 18th October, 1759, Walpole says— 

" Wolfe as I am convinced has fallen a sacrifice to his rash 
blame of you. If I understand anything in the world 
his letter that came on Sunday said this : Quebec is 


impregnable, it is flinging away the lives of men to 
attempt it. I am in the situation of Conway at Rochefort, 
but having blamed him I must do what I now see he was in 
the right to say wrong and yet what he would have done, 
and as I am commander, which he was not, I have the 
melancholy power of doing what he was prevented doing. 
Poor man ! his life has paid the price of his injustice and as 
his death has purchased such benefit to his country I lament 
him as I am sure you do who have twenty times more courage." 

Wolfe's place in our national history is secure, and Official 
the judgment of Pitt is the judgment of impartial ingratitude, 
posterity. Parliament voted him a monument in 
Westminster Abbey, and the country and the Govern- 
ment owed him so much and acclaimed his achieve- 
ments so gratefully, that it would be incredible were 
the evidence not conclusive, that his mother was 
point-blank refused assistance when she asked to be 
placed in a position to comply with the not very 
excessive commands contained in his will. Red tape 
left her to do from her own slender resources what 
should have been done by the nation without the 
asking. Wolfe gave England an Empire at the cost 
of his life, and official gratitude having no further 
favours to come, was callous to all claims which 
conflicted with official convention. It was unworthy 
of Pitt, and in strict conformity with the spirit of 
the time. Wolfe in his short life had done more 
for England than any soldier, except Clive, since 
Marlborough ; his brilliant soldiership was manifest 
almost from the very hour that he received his 
commission ; his one mistake at Montmorency would 
not have been costly if his men had given him the 
chance of discovering it before it was too late ; nor 
possibly need that mistake ever have been made 
had Amherst seen his way to forge ahead as he pro- 
bably would have done had Wolfe been at his elbow 


as he was at Louisbourg. Amherst had not the genius 
for sweeping difficulties aside ; he proceeded to 
remove them. The historian of Canada blames him 
for the slow progress which enabled Montcalm so 
long to keep the bulk of his forces intact. Possibly 
he believed Wolfe must fail. 1 
Wolfe as When it became necessary to despatch de Levis 

general. ^ Montreal as a precaution in case Bourlamaque was 
driven from Isle aux Noix, and to give Bougainville a 
substantial force about Cap Rouge in order to prevent 
any landing there, Wolfe saw how to use both his own 
and Saunders' resources to the fullest advantage. 
It is a favourite view with those who know their Wolfe 
superficially or their Thackeray thoroughly that 
Wolfe took the gambler's chance. " Is merit or 
madness the patron of greatness?" asks Thackeray. 
"Is it Frolic or Fortune ? " Thackeray vows that 
he scarce knows whether in the last act of the hero's 
life to admire the result of genius, invention, and 
daring or the boldness of a gambler winning surprising 
odds. " Suppose his ascent discovered a half-hour 
sooner, and his people, as they would have been 
assuredly, beaten back ? Suppose the Marquis de Mont- 
calm not to quit his entrenched lines to accept that 
strange challenge ? Suppose these points — and none of 
them depend upon Mr. Wolfe at all — and what becomes 
of the glory of the young hero, of the great minister who 
discovered him, of the intoxicated nation which rose 
up frantic with self-congratulation at the victory ? " 2 
Except in so far as the element which some men call 
Luck, which Wolfe regarded as the intervention of an 
Inscrutable Power, enters into all human affairs, 

1 Kingsford : vol. iv, p. 269. 

2 The Virginians, chap. Ixxiv. 


there was little left to chance on that September 
morning. Everything did depend on Wolfe. He 
was utilising his extreme mobility and obeying a sound 
strategical law, x and he had taken such precautions 
that if the strategical law had failed him he would have 
withdrawn with his forces practically intact. That 
was not the gambler's part. Wolfe from the moment 
he watched the operations at Rochefort, seized the 
significance and possibilities of combined, or as Mr. 
Corbett calls them, amphibious operations ; he set 
an example by which others were to profit, as any 
reader of Mr. Corbett's pages will easily understand. 
To study the history of the War of Independence 
which Wolfe's generalship did so much to make 
possible, is to start one speculating as to the chances 
of the revolt if a Wolfe had been at hand to take 
charge of the earlier movements of the campaign. 
One historian of Canada during that time 2 finds it 
impossible to keep the thought of what Wolfe would 
have done from his pages. There would at least have 
been no Saratoga ; and if Washington had triumphed 
ultimately he would have held a still bigger place 
in history. 

In James Wolfe England lost one of the rare char- ^ rare 
acters that no community of men would willingly let character, 
die and that the eighteenth century could spare less 
perhaps than any. His virtues were as high above 
the spirit of the age as his military abilities, his insight, 
his energy, his grip were beyond those of commanders 
whose opportunities were greater. " I may with strict 
truth," says Knox, 3 "advance that Major-General 

1 Corbett, vol. i, p. 460. 

2 Lucas : A History of Canada, 1763-1812. 

3 Historical Journal, vol. ii, p. 73. 


James Wolfe by his great talents and martial dis- 
position which he discovered early in life was greatly 
superior to his experience in generalship, and was by 
no means inferior to a Frederick, a Henry, or a 
Ferdinand." What he accomplished was done in the 
years when the ordinary mortal is learning his busi- 
ness ; he was to war what William Pitt, the son of 
the great commoner who sent him to Quebec, was 
later to politics, what Keats was to literature. x Self- 
educated to a very large extent alike in his profession 
and in letters, a right knowledge both of books and 
men came to him as by the sort of instinct which 
directs some men to their destination in strange 
localities where the majority would go astray. As 
Colonel Lambert told Warrington, Wolfe was " a 
good scholar as well as a consummate soldier " ; and 
with it all there was about him " a simplicity, a 
frankness, and a sort of glorious bravery," to quote 
Warrington himself, which made it as natural for him 
to command troops of friends as to command his 
seniors in the field. Smollett truly said— 

" Had his faculties been exercised to their full extent by 
opportunity and action, had his judgment been fully matured 
by age and experience, he would, without doubt, have 
rivalled in reputation the most celebrated captains of 

antiquity." ( 2 ) 

His moral courage went hand in hand with his 
physical : and surely physical courage is never greater 
than when it rises superior to such wracking pains 
and chronic ill-health as Wolfe's. " A delicate 
constitution, and a body unequal to that vigorous and 
enterprising soul that it lodged," said Edmund 
Burke. 3 He resisted nepotism and favouritism to the 

1 Beckles Willson : Nineteenth Century, Sept. 1908. 
( 2 ) History of England (1790 Edn.), vol. ii, p. 71. 
3 Annual Register, vol. ii, p. 39. 


incompetent even when the petitioner was his dearly- 
loved mother, and the enemies he made only serve 
to point Emerson's saying, that " the sun were 
insipid if the world were not opaque." Stern disci- 
plinarian though he was, he was loved by his men, and 
one of his captains on the day of the battle which 
ended his brilliantly brief career spoke of him as " the 
gentleman who commands in chief and who in his 
military capacity is perhaps equalled by few and 
surpassed by none." x He was " The Officer's Friend ; 
the Soldier's Father." 2 Devotion is the only word 
that sums up his life : devotion to parents, to friends, 
to profession, to country, to truth. His very failings, 
his constant complaints, his strong dislikes, his 
impatience of stupidity and slackness buttressed by 
convention, his uncompromisingly harsh judgments 
on occasion, only emphasise the essential sweetness 
of his nature, the integrity of his patriotism, the 
readiness to sacrifice self for the common weal. A 
marble tablet placed in Westerham Church by his 
co-mate Warde bears the lines — 

" While George in sorrow bows his laurell'd head 
And bids the artist grace the soldier dead ; 
We raise no sculptur'd trophy to thy name. 
Brave youth ! the fairest in the list of fame 
Proud of thy birth, we boast th'auspicious year, 
Struck with thy fall, we shed a general tear ; 
With humble grief inscribe one artless stone 
And from thy matchless honours date our own. 
I Decus I Nostrum." 

What belongs to Westerham belongs to the Empire, 
and with the men of Kent the men of Great and 
Greater Britain may say as they close the story of 
Wolfe's life : " His glory is ours." 

1 Quoted by Wood, p. 238. 

2 Doughty, vol. iii, p. 236. 


Headquarters at the Camp of Montmorenci, 

River of St. Lawrence, 

Sept. 2d, 1759. 
Sir — 

I wish I could, upon this occasion have the honour of 
transmitting to you, a more favourable Account of the 
progress of His Majesty's Arms ; But the Obstacles we have 
met with in the Operations of the Campaign, are much greater 
than we had reason to expect or could foresee. Not so much 
from the number of the Enemy (tho' superior to us) as from 
the natural strength of the country, which the Marquis de 
Montcalm seems wisely to depend upon. 

When I learnt that succours of all kinds had been thrown 
into Quebec, That five Battalions of regular Troops com- 
pleated from the best of the Inhabitants of the Country, Some 
of the Troops of the Colony, and every Canadian that was able 
to bear Arms, besides several Nations of Savages, had taken 
the Field in a very advantagious situation ; I could not flatter 
myself that I should be able to reduce the Place : I sought 
however an occasion to attack their Army, knowing well 
that with these Troops I was able to fight, And hoping that 
a Victory might disperse them. 

We found them incamp'd along the Shore of Beauport, 
from the River St. Charles to the Falls of Montmorenci, & 
intrench'd in every accessible part. The 27th of June we 
landed upon the Isle of Orleans ; But receiving a message 
from the Admiral, that there was Reason to think the Enemy 
had Artillery & a Force upon the Point of Levi, I detach'd 
Brigadier Monckton with four Battalions to drive them from 
thence. He pass'd the River the 29th, at Night, & march'd 
the next Day to the Point ; He obliged the Enemy's Irregulars 
to retire & possess' d himself of that Post ; The advanced 
Partys upon this occasion had two or three skirmishes with 
the Canadians and Indians with little loss on either side. 
Colonel Carleton march'd with a Detachment to the Wester- 
most point of the Isle of Orleans, From whence our Operations 
were likely to begin. 



It was absolutely necessary to possess these two Points & 
fortify them ; Because from either the one or the other, the 
Enemy might make it impossible for any Ship to lye in the 
Bason of Quebec, or even within two miles of it. 

Batterys of Cannon & Mortars were erected with great 
Dispatch, on the Point of Levi, to bombard the Town and 
Magazines and to injure the Works and Batterys : the 
Enemy perceiving these Works in some Forwardness, pass'd 
the River with 1,600 men, to attack & destroy them : Un- 
luckily they fell into Confusion, fired upon one another, & 
went back again. By which we lost an Opportunity of defeat- 
ing this large Detachment. The Effect of this Artillery has 
been so great (tho' across the River), that the Upper Town 
is considerably damaged, & the Lower Town entirely destroy'd. 

The works for the security of our Hospitals and Stores on 
the Isle of Orleans being finished : on the 9th of July at night 
we pass'd the North Channel & encamp'd near the Enemy's 
left, the River Montmorenci between us. The next morning, 
Capt. Danks's company of Rangers posted in a wood, to cover 
some Workmen, were attack'd & defeated by a Body of 
Indians ; And had so many killed & wounded as to be almost 
disabled for the rest of the Campaign. The Enemy also 
suffer'd in this Affair & were in their turn driven off by the 
nearest Troops. 

The Ground to the Eastward of the Falls seem'd to be (as 
it really is) higher than that on the Enemy's side, to 
command it in a manner which might be made usefull to us : — 
There is besides a Ford below the Falls, which may be pass'd 
for some hours in the latter part of the Ebb, & beginning of 
the Flood Tide ; and I had hopes that possibly, means might 
be found of passing the river above, so as to fight the Marquis 
de Montcalm upon terms of less disadvantage, than directly 
attacking his Intrenchments. In reconnoitring the River 
Montmorenci, we found it fordable at a place about three 
miles up, But the opposite Bank was intrench'd & so steep & 
woody, that it was to no purpose to Attempt a Passage there ; 
The Escort was twice attacked by the Indians, who were as 
often repulsed, But in these Rencounters we had forty (Officers 
& Men) kill'd & wounded. 

The 18th of July, two Men of War, two arm'd Sloops, & two 
Transports with some Troops on board, pass'd by the Town 
without any Loss, & got into the Upper River ; This enabled 
me to reconnoitre the Country above, where I found the same 
attention on the Enemy's side & great difficultys on ours. 
Arising from the Nature of the Ground, & the Obstacles to 
our Communication with the Fleet. But what I feared most, 


was, that if we should land between the Town & the River 
Cap Rouge, the Body first landed could not be reinforced 
before they were attack'd by the Enemy's whole Army. 
Notwithstanding these difficultys I thought once of attempting 
it at St. Nicholas, about three miles above the Town ; But 
perceiving that the Enemy were jealous of the design, were 
preparing against it, and had actually brought Artillery & 
a Mortar (which, being so near to Quebec, they could increase 
as they pleased) to play upon the Shipping ; And as it must 
have^been many hours before we could attack them (even 
supposing a favourable night for the Boats to pass by the 
town unhurt) It seem'd so hazardous that I thought it best 
to desist. 

However, to divide the Enemy's force, & to draw their 
attention as high up the River as possible, And to procure 
some Intelligence I sent a detachment under the Command 
of Colonel Carleton, to land at the Point de Trempe, * to 
attack whatever he might find there, bring off some Prisoners, 
& all the usefull Papers he could get. I had been inform'd, 
that a Number of the Inhabitants of Quebec had retired to 
that Place, and that probably we should find a Magazine 
of Provisions there. 

The Colonel was fired upon by a Body of Indians, the 
Moment he landed, but they were soon dispersed, & driven 
into the Woods : He search'd for Magazines, but to no 
purpose, brought off some Prisoners, & return'd with little 
loss. After this business I came back to Montmorenci, where 
I found that Brigadier Townshend had by a superior fire 
prevented the French from erecting a Battery on the bank of 
the River, from whence they intended to cannonade our 
Camp. I now resolved to take the first opportunity which 
presented itself of attacking the Enemy, tho' posted to great 
advantage, & everywhere prepared to receive us. 

As the Men of War cannot (for want of a sufficient depth of 
Water) come near enough to the Enemy's Intrenchments to 
annoy them in the least ; The Admiral had prepared two 
Transports (drawing but little water) which upon occasions 
could be run aground, to favour a Descent. With the help 
of these Vessels, which I understood would be carry'd by the 
Tide close in shore, I proposed to make myself Master of a 
detach'd Redoubt near to the Water's Edge, & whose situation 
appear'd to be out of Musquet Shot of the Intrenchment upon 
the Hill : If the Enemy supported this detach'd piece, it would 
necessarily bring on an Engagement, what we most wish'd 
for ; And if not, I should have it in my Power to examine their 

1 Pointe Aux Trembles. 


Situation, so as to be able to determine where we could best 
attack them. 

Preparations were accordingly made for an Engagement, 
The 31st of July, in the forenoon, the boats of Fleet were 
fill'd with Grenadiers & a part of Brigadier Monckton's 
Brigade from the Point of Levi ; The two Brigades under 
Brigadiers Townshend & Murray, were order'd to be in 
readiness to pass the Ford when it should be thought 
necessary. To facilitate the passage of this Corps, the 
Admiral had placed the Centurion in the Channel, so that she 
might check the fire of the lower battery, which commanded 
the Ford ; This Ship was of great use, as her fire was very 
judiciously directed. A great Quantity of Artillery was 
placed upon the Eminence, so as to batter & enfilade the left 
of their Intrenchments. 

From the vessel which run aground nearest in I observed 
that the Redoubt was too much commanded, to be Kep't 
without very great loss. And the more as the two arm'd 
Ships could not be brought near enough to cover both with 
their Artillery & Musquetry, Which I at first conceived they 
might. But as the Enemy seem'd in some Confusion, and 
we were prepared for an Action, I thought it a proper time to 
make an attempt upon their Intrenchment. Orders were 
sent to the Brigadiers General, to be ready with the Corps 
under their Command, Brigadier Monckton to land, And the 
Brigadiers Townshend & Murray to pass the Ford. At a 
proper time of the Tide, the signal was made. But in rowing 
towards the Shore, many of the Boats grounded upon a Ledge 
that runs off a considerable distance. This accident put us 
into some Disorder, lost a great deal of time, & obliged me 
to send an Officer to stop Brigadier Townshend's march, 
whom I then observed to be in motion. While the Seamen 
were getting the Boats off, the Enemy fired a number of 
Shells & Shot, but did no considerable damage. As soon as 
this Disorder could be set a little to Rights, & the Boats were 
ranged in a proper Manner, some of the Officers of the Navy 
went in with me to find a better place to land ; we took one 
Flat-bottom'd Boat with us to make the Experiment, & as 
soon as we had found a fit part of the Shore, the Troops were 
ordered to disembark ; Thmking it not yet too late for 
the Attempt. 

The thirteen companys of Grenadiers & 200 of the second 
Royal American Battalion got first on shore ; the Grenadiers 
were ordered to form themselves into four distinct bodys & 
to begin the Attack, supported by Brigadier Monckton's 
Corps, As soon as the other Troops had pass'd the Ford, & 


were at hand to assist. But whether, from the Noise & hurry 
at landing, or from some other Cause, the Grenadiers, instead 
of forming themselves as they were directed, ran on im- 
petuously towards the Enemy's Intrenchments in the utmost 
Disorder & Confusion, without waiting for the Corps which 
were to sustain them, & join in the Attack : — Brigadier 
Monckton was not landed, & Brigadier Townshend was still 
at a considerable Distance, tho' upon his march to join us, 
in very good Order. 

The Grenadiers were check' d by the Enemy's first Fire, & 
obliged to shelter themselves in or about the Redoubt, 
which the French abandon'd upon their Approach. In this 
Situation they continued for some time, unable to form under 
so hot a fire, & having many gallant officers wounded, who 
(careless of their Persons) had been solely intent upon their 
Duty : I saw the Absolute Necessity of calling them off, that 
they might form themselves behind Brigadier Monckton' s 
Corps, which was now landed, & drawn up upon the Beach 
in extream good Order. By this new Accident & this second 
Delay, It was near Night ; A sudden Storm came on, & the 
Tide began to make, so that I thought it most advisable not 
to persevere in so difficult an Attack, lest (in case of a 
Repulse) the Retreat of Brigadier Townshend's Corps might 
be hazardous & uncertain. 

Our Artillery had a great effect upon the Enemy's left, 
where Brigadiers Townshend & Murray were to have attacked, 
And it is probable that, if those Accidents I have spoken of, 
had not happen' d, We should have penetrated there, Whilst 
our left & center, more remote from our Artillery, must have 
bore all the violence of their Musquetry. 

The French did not attempt to interrupt our March ; some 
of their Savages came down to murder such wounded 
as could not be brought off, And to scalp the Dead, as their 
Custom is. 

The Place where the Attack was intended, has these 
Advantages over all others hereabout — Our Artillery could 
be brought into use — the greatest Part, or even the Whole 
of the Troops, might act at once — And the Retreat (in case 
of a Repulse) was secure, at least for a certain time of the 
Tide. Neither one, nor other of these Advantages can any 
where else be found. — The Enemy were indeed posted upon 
a commanding Eminence — The Beach upon which the Troops 
were drawn up, was of deep Mud, with Holes, and cut by 
several Gullys — The Hill to be ascended, very steep, & not 
every where practicable — The Enemy numerous in their 
Intrenchments & their fire hot — If this attack had succeeded, 


our loss must certainly have been great, and their's incon- 
siderable from the shelter which the neighbouring Woods 
afforded them. — The River St. Charles still remained to be 
passed, before the Town was invested — All these circum- 
stances I considered, But the Desire to Act in Conformity 
to the King's intentions induced me to make this Trial, 
Persuaded that a victorious Army finds no Difficultys. 

The Enemy have been fortifying ever since with Care, so 
as to make a second attempt still more dangerous. 

Immediately after this Check, I sent Brigadier Murray 
above the Town with 1,200 men, Directing him to assist 
Rear-Admiral Holmes in the Destruction of the French Ships 
(if they could be got at) in order to open a Communication 
with General Amherst. The Brigadier was to seek every 
favourable Opportunity of fighting some of the Enemy's 
detachments, provided he could do it upon tolerable Terms, 
And to use all the Means in his Power to provoke them to 
attack him. He made two different attempts to land upon 
the North Shore, without success ; but in a third was more 
fortunate. He landed unexpectedly at Dechambaud & burnt 
a Magazine there, in which were some Provisions, some Ammu- 
nition, and all the spare Stores, Cloathing, Arms, & Baggage 
of their Army. Finding that their Ships were not to be got 
at, & little Prospect of bringing the Enemy to battle, He 
reported his Situation to me, & I order'd him to join the Army. 
The Prisoners he took informed him of the Surrender of the 
Fort of Niagara, And we discovered by intercepted Letters, 
that the Enemy had abandoned Carillon 1 & Crown Point, 
were retired to the Isle aux Noix, And that General Amherst 
was making Preparations to pass the Lake Champlain, to 
fall upon Monsieur de Bourlemaque's Corps, which consists of 
three Battalions of Foot, & as many Canadians as make 
the whole amount to 3,000 Men. 

The Admiral's Dispatches & mine would have gone eight 
or ten Days sooner, If I had not been prevented from writing 
by a Fever ; I found myself so ill, & am still so weak, that I 
begg'd the General Officers to consult together for the Publick 
Utility. They are all of opinion, that, (as^more" Ships & 
Provisions have now got above the Town) they should try, by 
conveying up a Corps of 4 or 5,000 Men, (which is nearly 
the whole strength of the Army, after the Points of Levi and 
Orleans are left in a proper State of Defence) to draw the 
Enemy from their present Situation, & bring them to an 
Action. I have acquiesced in their Proposal, & we are 
preparing to put it in Execution. 

1 Ticonderoga. 


The Admiral and I have examin'd the Town, with a view 
to a general Assault, but after consulting with the Chief 
Engineer who is well acquainted with the interior parts of it, 
and after viewing it with the utmost attention, we found, that 
tho' the Batterys of the lower Town might be easily silenced 
by the Men of War, Yet the Business of an Assault would be 
little advanced by that, since the few Passages that lead from 
the lower to the Upper Town are carefully intrench'd, And 
the upper Batterys cannot be affected by the Ships which 
must receive considerable Damage from them & from the 

The Admiral would readily join in this or in any other 
Measure for the Publick Service, But I could not propose to 
him an undertaking of so dangerous a Nature & promising so 
little Success. 

At my first coming into the Country, I used all the Means 
in my Power, to engage the Canadians to lay down their Arms, 
by offers of such Protection & Security for themselves, their 
Property and Religion as was consistent with the known 
mildness of His Majesty's Government. I found that good 
treatment had not the desired Effect, so that of late I have 
changed my Measures & laid waste the Country ; partly to 
engage the Marquis de Montcalm to try the Event of a Battle 
to prevent the Ravage, And partly in Return for many Insults 
offer'd to our People by the Canadians, As well as the frequent 
Inhumanitys exercised upon our own Frontiers. It was 
necessary also to have some Prisoners as Hostages for their 
good Behaviour to our People in their Hands, whom I had 
reason to think they did not use very well. Major Dalling 
surprized the Guard of a village & brought in about 380 
Prisoners, which I keep, not proposing any Exchange till the 
end of the Campaign. 

In case of a Disappointment, I intended to fortify Coudres 
& leave 3,000 Men for the Defence of it ; But it was too late 
in the Season, to collect Materials sufficient for covering so 
large a Body. 

To the uncommon strength of the Country, the Enemy 
have added (for the Defence of the River) a great Number of 
Floating Batteries & Boats. By the vigilance of these, and 
the Indians round our different Posts, it has been impossible 
to execute anything by surprize. We have had almost daily 
skirmishes with these Savages, in which they are generally 
defeated, But not without Loss on our Side. 

By the List of disabled officers (many of whom are of Rank) 
you may perceive, Sir, that the Army is much weaken'd — 
By the Nature of the River, The most formidable part of the 


Armament is deprived of the Power of acting ; Yet we have 
almost the whole Force of Canada to oppose. — In this situa- 
tion, there is such a Choice of Difficultys, that I own myself 
at a Loss how to determine. The Affaires of Great Britain, I 
know, require the most vigorous Measures ; But then the 
Courage of a Handfull of brave Men should be exerted, only 
where there is some Hope of a favourable Event. However 
you may be assured, Sir, that the small part of the Campaign 
which remains, shall be employ'd (as far as I am able) for the 
Honour of His Majesty & the Interest of the Nation, In which 
I am sure of being well seconded by the Admiral & by the 
Generals. Happy, if our Efforts here can contribute to the 
Success of His Majesty's Arms in any other Parts of America. 

I have the honour to be with the greatest Respect, Sir, 
Your most obedient and most humble Servant, 

Jam : Wolfe. 


Extracts from Montcalm's letter dated " Du Camp 
devant Quebec, 24 d'Aout, 1759," and addressed to 
' M. de Mole, Premier President au Parlement de 
Paris." The letter is in the British Museum, and is 
reprinted in full by Mr. Doughty, vol. ii, pp. 280-7. 

Me voici, depuis plus de trois mois, aux prise avec Mons. 
Wolfe : il ne cesse, jour & nuit de bombarder Quebec, avec 
une furie, qui n'a gudres d'exemple dans le siege d'un place, 
qu'on veut prendre & conserver. . . Aussi apres trois mois 
de tentative, n'est-il pas avance dans son dessein qu'au pre- 
mier jour. II nous ruine, mais il ne s'enrichit pas. ... II 
semble qu'apres un si heureux prelude, la conservation de la 
colonie est presque assure. II n'en est cependant rien : la 
prise de Quebec depend d'un coup du main. Les Anglois 
sont maitres de la riviere ; ils n'ont qu'a erfectuer une 
descente sur la rive, ou cette ville, sans fortifications and sans 
defense, est situee. Les voila en etat de me presenter la 
bataille, que je ne pourrai plus refuser & que je ne devrai 
pas gagner. M. Wolfe, en effet, s'il entend son metier, n'a 
qu'a essayer le premier feu venir ensuite a grand pas sur mon 
armee, faire a bout parlant sa decharge, mes Canadiens, sans 
discipline, sourds a la voix du tambour & des instrumens 
militaires, deranges par cet escarre, ne scauront plus reprendre 
eurs rangs. . . . Une assurance que je puis vous donner, 
c'est que je ne survivrois pas probablement a la perte de la 
colonie. II est des situations ou il ne reste plus a un general, 
que de perir avec honneur ; je crois y etre ; &, sur ce point, 
je crois que jamais la posterite n'aura rien a reprocher a ma 
memoire ; mais si la Fortune decida ma vie, elle ne decidera 
pas de mes sentimens — ils sont Francois & ils le seront, j usque 
dans le tombeau, si dans le tombeau on est encore quelque- 
chose. Je me consolerai du moins de ma defaite, & de la 
perte de la colonie, par Tin time persuasion ou je suis, que 
cette defaite vaudroit un jour a ma patrie plus qu'une victoire 
and que le vainqueur en s'aggrandissant, trouveroit un 
tombeau dans son aggrandissement meme. . . . Toutes ces 
colonies Angloises auroient, depuis longtemps, secoue le jong, 


17— (2213) 


chaque province auroit forme une petite republique inde- 
pendante, si la crainte de voir les Francois a leur porte n'avoit 
ete un frein qui les avoit retenu. ... Si l'ancienns Angle- 
terre, apres avoir conquis le Canada scavoit se l'attacher par 
la politique & les bienfaits & se le conserver a elle seule, si 
elle le laissoit a sa religion, a ses loix, a son langage, a ses 
coutumes, a son ancien gouvernement, le Canada, divise 
dans tous ces points d'avec les autres colonies, formeroit 
toujours un pais isole qui n'enteroit jamais dans leurs 
interets, ni dans leurs vues, ne fut ce que par principe de 
religion : mais ce n'est pas la la politique Britannique. Les 
Anglois font ils une conquete, il faut qu'ils changent la 
constitution du pays, ils y portent leurs loix, leurs facons de 
penser, leur religion meme, qu'ils font adopter sous peine, au 
moins, de privation des charges ; e'est-a-dire, de la privation 
dc la qualite de citoyen. . . . En mot, etes-vous vaincus, 
conquis par les Anglois ? II faut devenir Anglois ! Mais les 
Anglois ne devroient-ils pas comprendre que les tetes des 
hommes ne sont pas toutes des tetes Angloises & sur tout 
d'esprits. . . . Chaque pays a ses arbres, ses fruits, ses 
richesses particuliers ; vouloir n'y transporter que les arbres, 
que les fruits d'Angleterre, seroit une ridicule unpardonable. 
1 1 est de meme des loix, qui doivent s'adapter aux climats ; 
parce que les hommes aux-memes tienne beaucoup des climats 
.... Sur ce pied le Canada pris une fois par les Anglois, 
peu d'annees suffiroient pour le faire devenir Anglois. Voila 
les Canadiens transformes en politiques, en negocians, en 
hommes infatues d'une pretendue liberte, qui chez la populace 
tient souvent en Angleterre de la licence, and de l'anarchie. 
Adieu, done, leur valeur, leur simplicite, leur generosite, elur 
respect pour tout ce qui est rcvetu de l'autorite, leur frugality, 
leur obeissance & leur fidelite ; e'est a-dire, ne seroient 
bien-tot plus rien pour l'ancienne Angleterre &. qu'ils seroient 
peut-etre contre elle. Je suis si sur de ce que j'ecris que je 
donnerai pas dix ans apres la conquete de Canada pour en 
voir raccomplissement. 


The total strength of Wolfe's army present at the 
battle on the Plains of Abraham was 4,829 of all 

ranks, and 2 guns. Major Wood (The Fight for 
Canada, p. 225) gives the following interesting 
table — 

Major-General . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 

Brigadiers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 

Divisional Staff . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 

Louisbourg Grenadiers. — From 1st Royals ; 17th, 22nd, 

40th and 45th Regiments 241 

15th — " Amherst's." Now East Yorkshire Regiments 406 

28th—" Bragg's." Now 1st Bn. Gloucestershire . . 421 

35th—" Otway's." Now 1st Bn. Royal Sussex . . 519 

43rd — " Kennedy's." Now 1st Bn. Oxfordshire Light 

Infantry 327 

47th—" Lascelles' " Now 1st Bn. Loyal North 

Lancashire . . . . . . . . . . . . 360 

48th— " Webb's." Now 1st Bn. Northamptonshire. . 683 
58th — " Anstruther's." Now 2nd Bn. Northampton- 
shire 335 

2nd — Bn. Royal Americans — " Monckton's." Now 

2nd Bn. King's Royal Rifle Corps . . . . 322 

3rd Bn. Royal Americans. — " Lawrence's." Now 3rd 

Bn. King's Royal Rifle Corps 540 

78th—" Fraser's." Now 2nd Bn. Seaforth Highlanders 662 




Wright : Life of Wolfe. 

Bradley : Wolfe. 

Parkman : Montcalm and Wolfe. 2 vols. 

Casgrain : Wolfe and Montcalm. 

Townshend : The Military Life of the First Marquess 

Knox: Historical Journal of the Campaign in North America. 

2 vols. 
Bourinot : Cape Breton and Its Memorials. 
Macdonald : The Last Siege of Louisbourg. 
Doughty : The Siege of Quebec. 6 vols. 
Kingsford : The History of Canada. Vol. iv, 1756-1763. 
Bradley : The Fight with France for North Ameri 
Wood : The Fight for Canada. 
Warburton : The Conquest of Canada. 2 vols. 
Corbett : England in the Seven Years' War. 2 vols. 
Waddington : La Guerre de Sept Ans. 
Mante : History of the Late War. 
Hassall : Balance of Power, 1715-1789. 
Lecky : England in the 18th Century. Vol. ii. 
Seeley : The Expansion of England. 
Von Ruville : William Pitt, Earl of Chatham. Vol. ii. 
Kimball : Correspondence of William Pitt with Colonial 

Governors, etc. 2 vols. 

Correspondence of the Earl of Chatham. 

Casgrain : Guerre du Canada (Journals and Correspondence 
of Montcalm, Bougainville, de Livis, etc.) 12 vols. 

Walpole : Letters, 1757-1759. 

Memoirs of George II. 

Fortescue : A History of the British Army. Vol. ii. 

Beckles Willson : Nineteenth Century, Sept. 1908, and 

Connoisseur, Jan. 1909. 
The Annual Register, 1759 ; Dictionary of National Biography ; 

Additional MSS. British Museum; Historical MSS. 

Com. Reports ; Amherst Papers and Ships' Logs Record 



Abercromby, General, 101, 121, 
122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 129, 
135, 153 
Abraham, Plains of, 213-219, 222 
Aix, Isle of, 94, 97, 126 
Aix-la-Chapelle, 38, 42, 71 
Amherst, General, 102, 104, 
105, 106, 108, 109, 110-1, 113, 
115, 116, 119, 122, 123, 124, 
125, 126, 127, 128, 135, 136, 
139, 140, 142, 144, 155, 168, 
178, 187, 190, 194, 197, 199, 
215 227-8 
Army! The, 12, 60, 70, 82-3, 98 
Augustus Fort, 59 

Banff, 49, 52 
Barrington, Lord, 136, 137 
Belleisle, Marshal, 26, 154 
Bigot, 149, 150, 159, 164 
Birrell, Mr. Augustine, 207-8 
Boscawen, Admiral, 51, 73, 102, 

104, 106, 108, 113, 117, 119, 

120, 124, 156 
Bougainville, 153, 154, 174, 188, 

197, 198, 201, 206, 212, 214, 

215, 219, 228 
Bourlamaque, 152, 155, 190, 

199, 228 
Boyne, The, 62 
Brigadiers' Plan for attacking 

Quebec, 191-194 
Braddock, 73, 77, 82, 115, 217, 
Bradstreet, 125, 128, 153 
Burton, Col., 197, 203, 204, 211, 

213 219 
Bury,' Lord, 48, 57-58, 63, 67, 

76, 80, 91 
Byng, Admiral, 74, 85, 86, 87 

Carleton Guy, 65, 66, 131-2, 
141, 145, 175, 196, 204, 206, 
219, 233, 235 

Cartagena Expedition, 7, 9 

Cartier, 1, 145 

Champlain, 1, 145 

Chesterfield, 90, 96 

Clive, Robert, 51, 72, 74, 92, 

Conway, Hon. H. S., 93, 95, 

96, 100, 226-227 
Cook Captain, 187 
Cope, Sir John, 26 
Cornwallis, Hon. E., 43, 48, 87, 

93, 96 
Culloden, 31-33, 52, 57, 62, 133 
Cumberland, Duke of, 15, 24, 

31-35, 36, 37, 38, 57, 67, 91, 


Delaune, Capt., 210 
Dettingen, 18-21, 133 
Devonshire, Duke of, 75, 91 
Drucour, Governor, 107, 113, 

117, 119, 120 
Dublin, in 1752, 60, 61, 62 
Dumas, Capt,* 167 
Dupleix, 74 
Duquesne, Fort, 72-3, 82, 101, 

Durell, Admiral, 139, 141, 155, 

157, 158, 199 

Falkirk, 29-30, 31 

Ferdinand, Prince, 128, 129-130 

Fire-ships, 164, 176-7 

Fontenoy, xi, 24 

Forbes, Brigadier, 101, 128, 135 

Forbes, Duncan, 91 

Forbes, Mrs. John, 56 

Foulon, Anse au, 200-1, 203, 21 1 , 

Fraser, Simon, 92 
Fraser's Highlander and the 

Sentry, 209 
Frederick the Great, 14, 16, 17, 

74, 86, 89, 90, 128 
Frontenac, 1, 145, 146, 148 




George II, 6, 14, 15, 18, 19, 

74, 75, 132, 136, 137 
Ghent, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24 
Glasgow, 29, 44, 45, 46, 48, 55, 

59, 68, 69 
Grammont, Due de, 18, 19 
Gray's " Elegy," 207-8 
Greenwich, Wolfe's days at, 5 
Grenadiers, 111 ; Wild rush at 

Montmorency, 182-3 ; Plains 

of Abraham, 218 

Halifax, 103, 104, 139 
Hamilton, Duchess of, 69 
Hardy, Sir Charles, 123, 124 
Hawke Admiral, 51, 73, 92, 

93,95, 100, 128, 153 
Hawley " Hangman," 29, 30 
Highlanders, 27-34, 43, 51, 81, 

91-2, 183, 184, 209, 211, 218 
Holborne, Admiral, 92 
Holderness, Earl of, 198 
Holmes, Rear-Admiral, 139, 

188, 200, 202, 206 
Honeywood, Col., 80, 81 
Howe, Capt., 94 
Howe, Col., 212, 213, 214 
Howe, Lord, 97, 101, 121, 124 

Inverness, 35, 52, 55 

Jervis, Jack, 5, 205 

Kingsley, Col. W., 81, 129, 
Kirkes, The, 147, 157 

Lacey, Miss, 36-7, 41 
Laffeldt, 37-38, 133, 
La Salle, 146, 147 
Lawrence, Governor, 104, 108, 

110, 122 
Lawson, Miss, 41, 45, 49, 66, 

77, 102, 151 
Levi. (See Point Levi.) 
Levis, de, 152, 169, 179, 197, 

198, 219, 228 
Ligonier, Sir John, 38; Lord, 

128, 132, 133 
Loudon, Lord, 92, 101 
Louis XV, 16, 24, 25, 28, 36, 

37, 38, 63, 74, 149 

Louisbourg, 42, 92, 101, 102, 
106-121, 139, 142, 154 

Lowther, Miss, 102, 134, 205, 

Mackellar, 159-160, 161, 164 
Maestricht, 36, 38 
Maria Theresa, 14, 16, 37, 74 
Minorca, 74, 85-6, 119, 126 
Monckton, Brigadier Robert, 
105, 132, 166, 169, 170, 182, 
184, 186, 197, 204, 210, 213, 
218, 225 
Mordaunt, Sir John, 77, 78, 92, 

93, 94, 95, 96, 100 
Montcalm, 1, 74, 92, 112, 117, 
121, 122, 128, 129, 141, 145, 
149, 150-156, 160, 161, 164, 
166, 170, 173, 174, 178, 180-1, 
189, 190, 192, 195, 196, 197, 
198, 199, 201, 204, 206, 212, 
213, 214, 216, 219, 220, 
221-2, 224, 228, 241-242 
Montgomery, 145, 189, 219 
Montmorency, 160, 166, 169-172 
178-180 196-7, 234, 235, 237 
Murray, Brigadier, 132, 169, 
182, 188, 191, 197, 204, 212, 
213, 219, 236 
Murray, Lord George, 32, 33 
Murray, Major Alexander, 133, 

Navy, The, 8, 84, 154 
Newcastle, Duke of, 75, 91, 137 
Noailles, Due de, 16, 18, 19 
Nova Scotia, 48, 50-51 

Orleans, Island of, 159, 162, 

168, 197 
Ostend, 15, 16, 22 
Oswego, Fort, 75, 152 

Paris, 65-7 

Pelham, 42, 50 

Phipps, Sir William, 148, 157 

Pitt, 75, 90-93, 100, 102, 104, 

124, 127, 128, 129, 130, 135. 

138, 139, 140, 153, 180, 216, 

223, 227 



Point Levi, 160, 166-168, 174, 

196, 197 
Portraits of Wolfe, 11 
Pompadour Madame de, 64-5, 

74, 149 
Prestonpans, 26 

Quebec, 72, 101, 118, 121, 122, 
123, 124, 125, 130, 135, 140, 
145, 147-8 

Ramesay, de, 160, 212, 214 
Richmond, Duke of, 65-6 
Rickson, Capt. William, 46, 48, 

52, 81, 91, 99, 121, 128 
Rorhefort, 92, 93-100 
Robison, Prof. John, 207-8 

St. Lawrence, Navigation of, 

St. Vincent. (See Jack Jervis). 
Sackville, Lord G., 42, 47, 104, 

120, 126 
Saunders, Admiral, 51, 134, 139, 

142, 153, 157, 164, 166, 168, 

169, 173, 174, 179, 181, 182, 

186, 188, 194, 195, 206, 210, 

Saxe Marshal, 22, 24, 36, 37, 

Scalping, 166, 176, 183 
Scott, Sir Walter, 35, 207-8 
Sea Power, 154 ; In Miniature, 

Spain, War with, 6-7 
Stair, Earl of, 15, 16, 18 
Stobo, Major, 200 
Stuart, Charles, 23-4, 26-33 
Swinden, Rev. S. R, 5, 10 

Temple, Lord, 137 

Ticonderoga, 101, 121, 128, 135, 
152, 155, 168, 190 

Townshend, Brigadier, 132-4, 
169, 170-2, 180, 182, 184, 185, 
190, 193-4, 197, 203, 204, 210, 
213, 216, 219, 222, 224-6 

Townshend, Henry, 87 

Vaudreuil, 149, 150, 152, 153, 
155-6, 158, 159, 165, 166, 
167, 168, 175, 184, 189, 190, 
201, 212, 214, 224 

Vergor, 201, 210 

Wade, General, 22, 26, 27 
Walker, Sir Hovenden, 148, 157 
Walpole Horace, 7, 63, 93, 100, 

133, 222, 223, 225 
Walpole Sir R., 5-6, 42 
Warde, George, 4, 10, 130-131, 

Washington, George, 9, 72, 82, 

200, 229 
Westerham, 1-2, 4, 231-2 
William Henry, Fort, 117, 152 
Whitmore, Brigadier, 110, 121 
Wolfe, Colonel Edward, 3, 7, 

27, 140 
Wolfe, Edward, 4, 17, 18, 21 ; 

Death of, 22-23 
Wolfe, General James : Rival 
birthplaces, 1 ; Westerham, 
1-2; Birth, 2; Ancestry, 3; 
School-days, 5 : a Volunteer 
at thirteen, 7 ; Duty and love, 
8 ; First Commission, 10 ; 
Portraits, 11; Ensign, 12; 
Flanders, 12-13; in Ghent, 
16-17, 22, 24; Adjutant 
at sixteen, 17 ; Dettingen, 
18-21 ; Lieutenant, 21 ; 
with Wade at Newcastle, 
27 ; with Hawley at Falkirk, 
29 ; with the Duke at 
Culloden, "31-35 ; Flanders 
Again, 35 ; Laffeldt, 37-38 ; 
21st birthday, 38 ; Desire to 
Travel, 40, 48 ; Major of the 
20th, 42 ; Stirling, 42-44 ; 
Glasgow, 44-48 ; Lieut. -Col., 
48 ; Banff, 49 ; Inverness, 
52 ; Reflections on 25th 
birthday, 53 ; Mathematics, 
54 ; Words and Action, 55 ; 
Wolfe and the Common 
Soldier, 60; In Ireland, 61- 
63 ; in Paris, 63-67 ; Return 
to Scotland, 68 ; March to 
Dover, 69-70_; Dover, 75-7 ; 
in Exeter, 77-8 ; A Course of 



Wolfe, General — (contd.) 

Reading, 87 ; Irish Ap- 
pointment, 89 ; the _J£oche- 
fort Expedition, 2 ^- 100 ; 
Louisbourg, 102, 106-121; 
Gulf of St. L awrence, 123-5 ; 
Colonel of the 67th, 100, 127; 
Appointed to the Quebec 
Command, 130; His Modesty, 
137; "two Anecdotes, 137-9; 
Preparing for Quebec, 14U-4 ; 
Quebec, 157-169; Mont- 
morency, 169-172, 178, 187, 

196-7 ; Last Letter to his 
Mother, 195 ; Proclamations 
162-3, 176; t Despatch to 
Pitt, 186, 194, 198, 233-9 ; 
Illness, 190-1 ; Brigadiers 
. Cons ul-t r — 191 ; thaif — Plan, 
192-4,; Anse au Foulon, 
200-1 ; Gray's " Elegy," 207- 
8 ; the Plains of Abraham, 
213-18; Death, 218; Charac- 
ter, 228-31. 
Wolfe, Major Walter, 33, 60, 
96, 127, 137, 141 


Press of Isaac PUtnan & Sons, Bath, England. 

(221 j) 








Salmon, Edward 
General Wolfe 







■ ;**>- 

Km! HMD 


I •■.••''W.\','SK^ 



£ Ml ',■!•..*